Covid booster vaccine: Omicron means we should get boosted by the bells – Angus Robertson MSP

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Scotland is in a vaccination race with the deadly Omicron variant ahead of Hogmanay.

A national target has been set to try and vaccinate 80 per cent of the eligible population with the third Covid booster jag before the bells.

In the last few days of 2021, we are all being encouraged to get the lifesaving injection to ensure the country combats the highly infectious new variant. From walk-in facilities to health centres and pop-up vaccination clinics, people are rolling up their sleeves to keep themselves, their loved ones and the community safe.

If you haven’t already been, please do so as a priority.

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Just prior to Christmas, statistics showed that the number of Covid cases in Scotland hit a record high since August. More than 7,000 people tested positive in just 24 hours.

The daily positivity rate was up nearly 15 per cent and, according to the Office for National Statistics, it is estimated that one in 65 people in Scotland had Covid in the run-up to Christmas. Don’t know about you, but I have plenty friends and colleagues who have come down with virus. More than at any stage during the pandemic.

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This week new measures to combat the Omicron variant came into force in Scotland. Large events, including Edinburgh’s main Hogmanay celebrations, have been cancelled as the safeguards take effect for the next three weeks. Rules also include a return to one-metre distancing in hospitality and indoor leisure settings while groups of only up to three households can meet.

Covid booster vaccines are key to reducing the effects of the Omicron variant (Picture: Danny Lawson/PA)Covid booster vaccines are key to reducing the effects of the Omicron variant (Picture: Danny Lawson/PA)
Covid booster vaccines are key to reducing the effects of the Omicron variant (Picture: Danny Lawson/PA)

Everyone hopes that by securing a record-breaking booster rollout and tightening up restrictions, the worst impacts of Omicron can be avoided. Early studies suggest it’s less severe in general than previous variants, however it is more contagious.

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That means that even a smaller percentage of a bigger number, potentially means more hospitalisations and more severe cases. It also means an awful lot of positive cases, meaning people needing to isolate. This will impact severely on the public and private sector, including the already overstretched NHS.

Hospitality, tourism, culture and events have already been severely impacted, firstly with the rising numbers of staff infections and now with the public health restrictions.

As Culture Secretary, I have been working intensively with the culture and events sector and appreciate how difficult things are. That is why new Scottish government support packages are being introduced and there is more still to do.

The most effective thing we can all do is get vaccinated as the best form of defence and the quickest route back to recovery.

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Scotland’s national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch has confirmed that already 72 per cent of adults in Scotland have already received their booster shot and that “we've got appointments to get to 80 per cent. What we need now is that final push to get people to come to fill those appointments.” He added: “That honestly is the best present you could give to any of your relatives, to get yourself protected so that you then protect others.”

With an army of vaccinators, NHS staff and volunteers on duty, it’s never been easier to get a Covid vaccination. Scotland has set itself the target of getting 80 per cent of eligible adults boosted before Hogmanay. If that can include you, then: get boosted by the bells.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary

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