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Coronavirus / Vaccination rollout to slow down as half the population has had first dose

The Pfizer vaccine. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

ALMOST half of eligible islanders have had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine so far, but that progress is set to slow down considerably over coming weeks, NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson has confirmed.

The health chief said that national supply of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are unable to keep up with health boards’ ability to vaccinate.

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson. Photo: Shetland News

Speaking to Shetland News on Wednesday, Dickson said that as of this week 8,887 islanders have been vaccinated.

“We are currently vaccinating those in the JCVI [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] group six; that’s our largest group and includes people who are clinically at risk, as well as unpaid carers,” Dickson said.

He added: “However, vaccination will dramatically slow down for the rest of February and probably right through March.

“Whilst everyone has stepped up capacity, supply that might have been there has been used up.

“What we don’t have is thousands of doses sitting at the hospital waiting to be given.”

Care home residents and staff are also currently being given their second dose, a programme Dickson expects to be concluded by the end of next week.

“We are pretty much expecting all of the Pfizer that is coming in during the month of March to be given to people who are due their second dose,” he said.

Meanwhile the third of the islands’ mass vaccinations centres, at the Scalloway games hall, is on schedule to become available next week but is unlikely to be used until the national vaccine supply shortage has been overcome.

“We are now in a position where we are not using all of our [vaccination] capacity; it means that when the supply picks up again we will be in a position to step up and increase our speed of vaccination,” Dickson said.

“It has been an enormous amount of work, the vaccination centres are working exceptionally well, and the teams are really loving making such a difference. This is all testament of the hard work of everybody at NHS Shetland.

“A big thanks to the community for being as patient as they have been.”

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021