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Coronavirus / Two more Covid-related deaths as winter booster programme prepares to get underway

More than 20,000 vaccines are expected to be given out in Shetland in just three months

THE DEATHS of two people in Shetland who had Covid mentioned on their death certificate were registered in the last few weeks, according to National Records of Scotland data.

One was registered in the week beginning 25 July, and the other in the week commencing 1 August.

Meanwhile this year’s flu and Covid vaccination programme starts on 5 September and will run until December.

It will include both seasonal flu vaccinations and Covid boosters for specific groups of people in the population.

A range of venues will be used to deliver the programme to thousands of Shetland residents, including the Gilbertson Park games hall in Lerwick.

This year the following groups will be offered a flu vaccine:

  • Care home residents
  • Health and social care workers
  • All those in clinical risk groups for flu from age of six months
  • Children from age of two up to the final year of secondary school
  • Pregnant women
  • Unpaid carers aged 16 and over
  • Household contacts of people who have a very weakened immune system
  • Teachers and some other school staff
  • All adults from the age of 50

These groups will be offered a Covid booster:

  • Care home residents
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • All those in clinical risk groups for Covid from age of five years
  • Pregnant women
  • Unpaid carers aged 16 and over
  • Household contacts of people who have a very weakened immune system
  • All adults from age of 50

The programme will be prioritised so that those at highest risk for Covid and flu will be invited first – starting with care home residents, older people and health and social care staff, and then other groups will be called later in the programme.

All appointments will be organised locally by phone or letter, or an invite to drop-in clinics.

For those who are eligible for both flu and Covid vaccines, these will be administered at the same time where possible.

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The flu vaccination programme for children will run in parallel from September to December, with pre-school children being vaccinated in GP practices and older children in school.

Consent forms for school aged children will start being given out when the schools go back this week.

Parents of pre-school children will receive a national letter and should then contact their child’s GP practice if they want them to have the flu vaccine.

As in previous years there will be different types of flu vaccine for those aged 65 and over, adults aged 18 to 65 and those under 18.

All the vaccines are effective against four different strains of flu including H1N1 or ‘swine’ flu.

There are egg free vaccines for those who are allergic.

As in previous years, children and young people under 18 will receive the nasal flu vaccine spray. Those who cannot have this for clinical reasons will be offered an injection.

There may be some changes to the Covid vaccines being offered for boosters this year as new vaccines are being developed and approved.

Nearly everyone in Scotland who wants a booster will receive an mRNA vaccine as last year (e.g. a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine) and there will be an alternative for the small number of people who cannot have those for clinical reasons.

Further information on the vaccines to be allocated to Shetland is awaited and will be communicated when available.

NHS Shetland’s interim director of public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said: “The autumn/winter vaccination programme for flu and Covid will again be very complex this year, involving giving over 20,000 vaccines in Shetland in just three months.

“We continue to work in partnership with Shetland Islands Council to use the Gilbertson Park Games Hall as a vaccination centre, and we will also run clinics in some GP practices and on the outer isles.

“We will be scheduling appointments locally and not using national appointment letters, nor the online portal for self-booking, so please do not try to use that.

“We will be inviting people according to national priority groups so please be patient. All those who are eligible will receive a phone call or a letter in due course about booking their appointment or attending a drop in.

“Health and social care staff will be contacted by the Occupational Health Team, and school children will received a consent form through school.”

Further information on the vaccination programme will be available on NHS Inform website www.nhsinform.scot/winter-vaccines and there will be regular updates on NHS Shetland’s social media feeds and website.

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