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Coronavirus / Health board outlines next phase of Covid-19 vaccine rollout

A further 15,000 doses to be delivered in the coming weeks

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

NHS Shetland has outlined its plans for the next phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, with care home residents and others aged over 80 currently being offered booster doses.

Last week NHS Scotland’s Jason Leitch said during a visit to the islands that, with over 2,000 cases of Covid-19 being recorded daily, without the successful vaccine rollout the country would most likely be back in lockdown this autumn.

The vaccination programme has been expanded to include young people aged 12 and over along with a booster dose for high-risk individuals and a third dose for people who have had a weaker response to the first two doses.

The health board expects to deliver an additional 15,000 vaccines in the weeks ahead and are currently inviting people aged 12-15 for vaccination, along with anyone aged 16 or over yet to have their first dose, and those now eligible for their second dose.

Most under 17s are currently being offered a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine, while those in clinical risk groups will be offered two doses with an eight-week gap.

Booster doses are being offered to those in high-risk groups, beginning with those aged over 80 and those in care homes. They will be followed by those aged over 70 and younger people deemed “extremely clinically vulnerable”. Health and social care workers are also being invited for vaccines.

NHS Shetland public health consultant Dr Susan Laidlaw said: “People in these highest risk groups are also eligible for the seasonal flu vaccine, and many people will have both vaccines together.

“however the booster dose can only be given after a minimum of 24 weeks from the second dose of Covid vaccine, so, in some cases, people will have their flu vaccine first but will need to wait before they can get their Covid booster.

“I would encourage anyone who is eligible for these vaccines to take up the offer of an appointment. The Covid booster is important because it appears that the effectiveness of the first two doses does seem to start wearing off after about six months, and so the booster dose helps to bring it back up again.”

Later in October, flu and Covid boosters will be offered to people aged 50-69 and people 49 and under in clinical risk groups. These groups will be able to book their own appointments through an online portal, with alternative booking routes also available.

The health board said there was a small group of people recommended to have a third vaccine dose at a minimum of eight weeks after their second dose. This group may later receive a booster as well.

This would be for people whose immune system may not have been working well when they received their first doses, because of a medical condition or treatments that affect the immune system. Such individuals will be invited, mostly by phone, to attend their health centre or the Gilbertson Park vaccination centre.

Further information is available at www.nhsinform.scot/covid-19-vaccine/