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Coronavirus / Health board ready for vaccine roll-out

The first vaccinations are to be delivered on Friday.

NHS Shetland is “ready to go” when it comes rolling out the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

That is the view of health protection practitioner Elsbeth Clark, who is helping to oversee the programme.

She said during a livestream Q&A with chief executive Michael Dickson on Wednesday evening that work around equipment and training has been ongoing in the background.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is expected to be given to people in Shetland from tomorrow (Friday) onwards.

The first batch received by NHS Shetland will be able to vaccinate over 400 people.

Receiving the jab, which requires two doses, is not mandatory.

Consultant in public health medicine Dr Susan Laidlaw said the priority groups who will get vaccinated first include care home residents and staff, as well as the people delivering the jabs.

“I’d be hopeful by the end of the year we’d have those groups [vaccinated], and I think that would be a real step forward,” she said.

“It will make a difference to that really vulnerable group.

“After that, it will be other social care workers, because they’re working with vulnerable groups, and healthcare workers, the patient facing ones – people in hospital, people in primary care, the people who do the swabs, the people that work in the covid assessment centre.”

It will then move on to people at risk, as well as coming through age groups, before going onto the general population.

With the vaccine being rolled out in phases, Dr Laidlaw said there was a hope that things will begin to look more positive.

“It does mean that I think we can see maybe next time this year things will be a lot different. I wouldn’t like to be more optimistic than that,” she said.

Dr Laidlaw said that at the moment children are unable to receive the vaccine.

Pregnant women and those breastfeeding are also unable to have the jab at this stage.

Anybody with a history of anaphylaxis are also advised not to receive the vaccine after two NHS workers had allergic reactions on Tuesday.

“That may change in the future,” Dr Laidlaw said.

She said that if you get a fever within 48 hours of having the vaccine it is most likely to be due to the jab. But if you have a cough as well, get a Covid test.

Dr Laidlaw added that the emergence of the vaccine has come “quicker that we might have originally thought”.

“But in this case I think the companies, the manufacturers, governments have thrown everything at it and this is why it’s happened so quickly,” she said.

She added that it has gone through the same approval process of other vaccines, and it has been using technology that has been worked on for “quite a long time”.

Her closing thoughts was to advise people to be patient – the programme will be a lengthy project – and for folk not to phone up GPs asking for a jab.

She said people will be contacted when the time is right.

Dickson, meanwhile, stressed the importance of continuing to follow the FACTS guidance around social distancing, masks and hand washing while the vaccination programme is being rolled out.

He said he does not expect any rules to reduce until after the vaccine programme is complete.