Covid Scotland: Call for mass vaccination centres to be reopened

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The Scottish Government should reopen mass vaccination centres to speed up the roll-out of booster jags, the Scottish Conservatives have said as boosters were extended to everyone aged 40 and over.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said mass centres were necessary to increase booster jag rates so that Covid cases were kept under control and Scotland’s NHS was protected.

The call from the Tories comes as the Scottish Government have announced they will follow Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice and extend booster jags to people aged 40-49 years old, and offer a second dose to 16 and 17 year olds.

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The latest figures show Scotland has given a third dose of vaccine to 24.7 per cent of all people aged 12 and over, while the UK as a whole has given booster doses to 21.9 per cent.

The Scottish Conservatives have called for mass vaccination centres to be reopened.The Scottish Conservatives have called for mass vaccination centres to be reopened.
The Scottish Conservatives have called for mass vaccination centres to be reopened.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said those aged 40 to 49 would soon be able to book their own appointments through the NHS online portal, which is now live for 50-59-year-olds.

Dr Gulhane said: “Covid booster jags are our best weapon to stop the spread of the virus. As the booster programme expands to include younger people, it’s vital that the government does everything in its power to make sure as many jags as possible are delivered before Christmas.

“The booster jag roll-out could be going much faster if we had mass clinics operating again to complement the current local delivery method.”

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He added: “Vaccination centres were incredibly effective at delivering the first and second jags, so why would we not use them to deliver booster jags?

“To halt the spread of Covid, the Government’s first step should be reopening mass vaccination centres, instead of considering introducing more stringent restrictions that would damage jobs, businesses and people’s mental health.”

The announcement from the JCVI comes after a study by the UK Health Security Agency found boosters gave more than 90 per cent protection in people over 50.

The research showed two weeks after receiving a booster dose, protection against symptomatic infection was 93.1 per cent in those who had initially received Oxford/AstraZeneca and 94.0 per cent for Pfizer/BioNTech.

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Dr Smith said the roll-out for those aged 40-plus would take place once the earlier age groups had had their boosters and the Scottish Government would confirm the timetable for 16 and 17-year-olds.

He said: “Young people aged 16 and 17-years-old are now eligible for a second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine following the most recent JCVI advice.

"The vaccine will be offered from 12 weeks after their first vaccination. In cases where an individual in this group has had a positive PCR test for Covid-19, the JCVI recommends the second dose should be given at least 12 weeks following infection.”

Dr Smith said 76 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds had received one dose of the vaccine.

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He said: “We are delighted with the uptake in this age group so far and continue to urge everyone who is offered a vaccination to take up the offer and help protect themselves, their families and friends and their local communities.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We continue to make excellent progress with the Autumn/Winter vaccination programme, and Scotland currently has the highest overall percentage vaccination rates for first, second, boosters and third doses of any UK nation.

“Health boards are using a delivery model most suitable for local circumstances, giving operational flexibility to deliver both programmes in a way that increases uptake and a person-centred vaccination programme tailored to communities. Work is ongoing to explore how we might further increase capacity, and we continue to directly support health boards to help them identify, recruit and train additional staff. We have to ensure there is the appropriate workforce to staff any additional vaccination clinics that are opened.”

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