SECOND doses of the Covid vaccine will begin to be given to care home residents in Shetland from tomorrow (Friday).
Interim director of community health and social care Brian Chittick, who is leading the rollout of the vaccination programme, also told a meeting of the partnership on Thursday that targets for uptake of the vaccine has been exceeded in all age groups in Shetland.
Meanwhile, work is being undertaken to find out if the Covid-19 vaccination programme will need to be repeated either on a one-off basis or annually.
An update on the programme was given to members of Shetland’s integration joint board, with its figures providing some positive reading.
More than 7,000 people in Shetland have received their first dose so far, and this includes 100 per cent over 80s and 96 per cent of over 75s.
However, a warning was made that it is still unclear whether there will need to be a repeat of the vaccine programme in the future.
There may need to be a dedicated vaccination team set up if this is the case, members were told.
He said that during the vaccination programme “dependency on services has been quite hefty” – and running it again might be too demanding.
Public health principal Elizabeth Robinson added that it could in theory be a biennial programme, or every four years, if it needed to be repeated.
Chittick’s report also said that there is currently a decreased volume of vaccine resupply in Scotland, adding that Shetland has the logistical challenge on top in terms of its location.
It was reiterated that the timeline of the programme is completely reliant on the supply of the vaccine to Shetland.
Among the planned timetable goals is people aged between 16 and 49 having their first doses between the end of March and 31 May.
Chittick said “Shetland PLC” has come together to support the vaccine rollout, including the public, while he also praised the “true partnership working” between agencies like NHS Shetland, the council and the emergency services.
Robinson also said she hoped that restrictions on care home visiting could be relaxed in a time period such as four or six weeks’ time.
It came after IJB chair councillor Emma Macdonald questioned at what point in the vaccination programme could physical visits return to care homes.
While she recognised the need for caution, she said some people in the homes have not been touched by a loved one in a year.
“It’s that balance of harm that I suppose is playing on my mind,” Macdonald said.
Chittick, meanwhile, also issued a note of caution to say existing protective measures like the FACTS guidance around social distancing and face coverings should still be adhered to, with the rollout on top of underlying guidance and not a replacement.
The first dose only offers some level of protection after a few weeks.
“It will take time to get through the whole population,” he said.
“We are asking people to be patient.”
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