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Coronavirus / Unvaccinated people will be ‘welcomed with open arms’ if they change their mind

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

THE COVID vaccination programme in Shetland has been hailed as “truly magnificent” – although there remains lower numbers for people aged 65 to 69.

NHS Shetland public health principal Elizabeth Robinson also told a meeting of the health board on Tuesday anyone, of any age, who has not yet been jabbed would be “welcomed with open arms” if they decide to have a vaccine.

Walk-in clinics are being held in Lerwick over the coming days and weeks.

Latest Public Health Scotland figures show that Shetland has the joint highest percentage of people aged over 18 who have had a booster or dose three.

This figure rests at just over 82 per cent, and for people aged 12-plus it is 75.8 per cent.

But Robinson said the percentage figure for the 65 to 69 age group remains slightly lower than others.

When it comes to a booster or dose three, 92.6 per cent of 65 to 69 year olds have had the jab, but for 60 to 64s it is 97.3 per cent.

Robinson said the priority at the moment is working on the younger ages, who are the most recently eligible, before possibly focusing on the 60 year olds.

The public health official said she is not aware of any rationale behind the lower numbers of 65 to 69 year olds.

Robinson also said local swabbers and contact tracers are “absolutely exhausted” after a sharp rise in Covid cases and testing in recent weeks.

However a recent change in national guidance which reduces the requirement for PCR tests has eased pressure on staff.

“We are trying to arrange time off and cover so they can get back to feeling normal again,” Robinson said.

She also highlighted that the number of contacts being traced in Shetland has increased in recent months due to less restrictions and the winter causing more people to socialise indoors.

Board member Lincoln Carroll paid tribute to the “phenomenal effort” of staff, especially over Christmas.

Meanwhile 13 new Covid cases have been confirmed in Shetland today (Tuesday).

However, today’s NHS board meeting heard that numbers have lowered recently due to less PCR tests being carried out as a result of new national guidance.