This is when over-70s will be offered the Covid vaccine in Scotland

By Chelsea Rocks
Monday, 18th January 2021, 4:33 pm
Updated Monday, 18th January 2021, 4:43 pm

NHS Scotland has now vaccinated nearly 270,000 of the country’s most vulnerable people against coronavirus, equating to just 5 percent of the adult population. 

As England moves to vaccinate those aged 70 and over, Scotland continues to focus on people aged 80 and over, but the Scottish government insists it is “scaling up rapidly". 

On week commencing 11 January, over 60,000 vaccines were administered to certain groups - but when can people aged 70 and over expect to receive their first jab of the vaccine? 

This is what we know so far. 

Who is currently being vaccinated in Scotland?

Scotland follows the same priority grouping as the rest of the UK, as advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

At present, the NHS in Scotland continues to administer the first dose of the vaccine to the top two priority groups - those aged 80 and above, care home residents and those working on the frontline in health and social care settings. 

However, of the 264,991 vaccines that have been given so far, only a tiny proportion went to those aged over 80 who live in the community, as care home settings were given top priority.

Of the 250,000 people over 80 living independently, only 2 percent have been given their first jab. 

A spokesperson for the Scottish government said: "We targeted the earliest vaccines at those most at risk of transmission of the virus due to being more likely to be in contact with a greater number of people in a residential location.

"Since receiving the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, GP practices have started to vaccinate those aged over 80 years."

What is the current vaccination schedule in Scotland? 

The priority in Scotland is to reach those in the 80 and above category. 

Following this, over 70s and those defined as clinically vulnerable - considered priority groups three and four - will be the next two groups to be offered the vaccination en masse. 

Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman has said those aged 70 and over will have received their vaccination by mid-February.

By the beginning of March, Ms Freeman has targets to have completed the vaccination of all those aged 65 and over and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. 

This suggests that 1.4 million people will have been administered with their first dose by mid-March. 

By early May, all those aged 50 and over as well as all adults aged over 16 who are clinically vulnerable will have received their first jabs, according to government targets.

At present, about 16,000 vaccinations a day are being carried out in Scotland, though this is set to increase as of 18 January. 

Why is Scotland not vaccinating at the same speed as England? 

As of Sunday 10 January, Scotland had given the first jab to 18,714 people aged 80 and over - 6.9% of the age group. 

The number is far higher in England, where 1,036,605 people of the same age group (36%) had been vaccinated.

This has been somewhat attributed to “patchy” supplies and inconsistencies across GP practices in Scotland, according to British Medical Association chair in Scotland, Dr Andrew Buist.

He told the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme: “The current problem lies with the next priority group, which is the 80-plus group, which GPs in Scotland are set to vaccinate because the supply of the vaccine so far has been quite patchy.

"Some practices have a good supply, some have had none so far."

He added that the inconsistencies in the number of vaccinations arriving at GP practices has resulted in GPs being unable to plan ahead and invite people for their vaccine. 

He said: “We can't plan, that's the key thing. We can't send out appointments to patients until we're sure we have the vaccine in our fridge.

"We were given 100 doses on Monday. We used that all up by Friday. We don't want to send out appointments to patients until we know that we can definitively vaccinate them otherwise patients get very upset."

How will Scotland “scale up” their vaccination programme?

British Army soldiers are now being drafted in to help to establish 80 new Covid vaccine centres across Scotland.

There will also be mass vaccination sites set up. These will be located at Aberdeen’s Exhibition and Conference Centre, Ravenscraig Sports Facility in Motherwell, Queen Margaret University in Musselburgh and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. 

NHS Louisia Jordan in Glasgow’s SECC is already working as a mass vaccination centre. 

These centres are set to be open from 8am until 10pm seven days a week, but this could be extended. 

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman pledged: "We will have the workforce and the infrastructure to vaccinate 400,000 people each week by the end of February."

Nicola Sturgeon is set to outline the mass vaccine rollout in more detail on Tuesday, 19 January. This article will be updated following the First Minister’s announcement.