On the home straight with vaccination plan - Cllr George Gordon

We can all look forward to brighter times very soon with the clear roadmap out of lockdown announced in Parliament on Tuesday, with indicative dates now in everyone’s diaries for when key elements of society will begin to open up again.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 12:00 am
The Edinburgh International Conference Centre is one of the main vaccination centres in the city

The vaccination programme is a key driver of this positive momentum back to ‘normality’ and here in Lothian more than 283,000 people have had their Covid-19 jab. As a resident of Edinburgh I’d like to express my gratitude and how impressed I am with how quickly and efficiently I received mine at Holy Cross Church at Bangholm on 12 February.

I’m writing this though with my other hats on, in my roles as a local councillor and board member of both NHS Lothian and the EICC, whose board I chair and which has been doing a great job hosting one of Lothian’s mass vaccination centres.

We’re in the midst of one of the most extraordinary vaccination programmes the country has ever seen, made more challenging in Edinburgh and the Lothians due to population numbers. Vaccination centres have sprung up filled with vaccinators, with more than 500 of these volunteers, administering a vaccine every seven minutes. They are being supported by around 100 administrative staff and the whole effort is impressive to behold.

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This is a success to be proud of and headlines querying why Lothian‘s roll out is ‘slow’ are just not helpful.

NHS Lothian is vaccinating as fast as supplies allow. They can deliver 60,000 vaccines a week but as yet the supply hasn’t matched that. This will improve in April when supplies are expected to ramp up.

It’s important to note that Edinburgh has a younger population than most of Scotland, which has been reflected in the amount of vaccines distributed to Lothian. This will change when it’s time for younger groups to get their jags.

Lothian also has a high proportion of care home residents and this part of the programme was slower to do, particularly as we had to take account of outbreaks and revisit homes to vaccinate those who may have been too unwell to receive it during the first visit. That said, despite the challenges with care homes, all eligible residents were vaccinated within the planned target dates.

There are concerns about the late delivery of letters to 60-64-year-olds due to a problem with the national booking system. If you’re in this group and still waiting for a letter you should call the national booking line on 0800 030 8013 to check your appointment.

I would urge everyone to please be patient as they will soon receive their vaccination. In the meantime, let’s all keep working together to stick to the guidance and protect our loved ones and our communities. We’re on the home straight now, thanks to everyone’s hard work and sacrifices.

A massive thanks too to the NHS and Health and Social Care teams, the key workers including those delivering essential council services, and the teams of volunteers looking out for their communities, for their incredible hard work to help keep us safe throughout the pandemic.

And of course, we’re all hugely grateful to the army of vaccinators who are now racing against the clock to immunise us all against this terrible virus so we can try to get on with living our lives more freely once again.