Covid Scotland: How is the booster vaccine programme going?

The Scottish Government has launched a new campaign to get as many people as possible “boosted by the bells”.

Nicola Sturgeon has set out a goal for 80 per cent of adults to receive a booster dose by the end of this month.

Ministers have admitted this is an “ambitious” target, but said they are confident it can be met.

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The biggest limiting factor is staff, as the NHS is already under considerable strain, meaning re-directing extra vaccinators from elsewhere is a challenge.

Members of the public queue for vaccinations on a vaccination bus at West College Scotland Clydebank Campus on December 17, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Extra military personnel have been deployed to help, and some health boards have reported a significant benefit from the additional training and skills brought by soldiers.

But will the target be met?

At the end of the day on December 22, a total of 2,782,462 people had been given a third or booster dose, representing 62 per cent of adults, and 72 per cent of those eligible for their third dose.

According to advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), patients must wait 12 weeks after receiving their second dose to get a booster.

To reach 80 per cent coverage for those eligible, just under 301,000 more people need to be given a third dose.

Vaccination centres will close on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, leaving the Scottish Government with seven days to achieve this, as vaccination totals are reported with a day’s lag.

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This means around 43,000 booster doses need to be delivered each day – a target that seems wholly achievable based on current progress.

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The daily total of third doses has been above 60,000 for five days in a row, with a record 78,000 third doses administered on Monday.

If vaccination continues at this rate, it is likely the target will be reached a couple of days in advance.

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This will be a hugely impressive achievement, especially when compared to vaccination rates earlier in the pandemic.

Back in spring 2021, the Scottish Government aimed to reach 400,000 first doses per week.

This target was never hit, as the vaccination programme was plagued by supply issues.

But last week, for the first time, the total of all doses given rose above this, with 432,936 vaccines administered.

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