Coronavirus / Booster Covid vaccinations likely for priority groups, public health chief says

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

NHS Shetland is expecting that booster Covid vaccination doses will be given out in the future.

Interim director of public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said at the moment it looks like this could be for priority groups one to nine.

This would include over 50s, clinical risk groups and certain health and social care staff.

“It looks like that will be running alongside the flu vaccination programme,” she said.

Dr Laidlaw added that any booster doses would likely be given out at mass vaccination clinics in Lerwick.

The health board, meanwhile, is expecting most of Shetland’s second doses to be given out by the end of July.

“The big clinics in Lerwick are running up until the third week of July, and after that the numbers are such that there’s not enough to run big clinics,” she said.

For those still needing second doses, they would likely be administered in local settings like health centres.

NHS Shetland’ interim director for public health Dr Susan Laidlaw.

Dr Laidlaw added that the health board is waiting on more information regarding the potential rollout of the Pfizer vaccine to 12 to 15 year olds after it was approved by the UK medicine regulator.

“If we do have to vaccinate children, that will probably be through school for the ones that are in school,” she said. “Then we’d have to sort out the slightly older ones who might have left school.”

Dr Laidlaw added that more staff might need to be recruited to assist.

The health official, meanwhile, said it was too early to say what life after level zero might look like.

Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles all moved into level zero coronavirus restrictions on Saturday, which offers greater freedoms.

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But it is still unclear what the rules could look like beyond tier zero.

Dr Laidlaw expects strict measures to still be in place for high risk settings like hospitals and care homes.

She said that New Zealand could be a blueprint for how post-level zero could look.

“They are still wearing masks in certain situations, for example, like public transport,” Dr Laidlaw added.

“They are still clamping down very much if they have a case or an outbreak. It’s those sort of things we might look towards.”

She thinks things will ease up gradually. At the moment, for instance, people are supposed to keep a two metre distance from each other except in certain settings like some hospitality venues.

“We know that a lot of people aren’t doing that,” Dr Laidlaw said. “That will gradually change I think.”

She also said she hoped that in the future people will continue to have a focus on respiratory hygiene and be vigilant around going out when feeling ill.

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