Clarity needed on vaccine roll-out schedule

Donald Cameron MSP Photograph: Wullie Marr Donald-Cameron-MSP-e1584547642850.jpg

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Shadow Health Secretary Donald Cameron has urged First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to ensure there is a clear schedule in place for people in vaccination priority groups to receive their Covid-19 jabs.

Mr Cameron put his point to the First Minister after she made a statement on Covid-19 in the Scottish Parliament on Monday.

The Highlands and Islands MSP said it is important every health board in Scotland issues information giving the time and place vaccinations will take place.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Cameron said: ‘We are now in a race against the virus which is threatening to spread rapidly, as we strive to get vaccinations to the people who are on the clinical priority list.

‘It is essential we have clarity on the vaccine roll-out and that is why I am urging the Scottish Government to ensure everyone who needs a vaccine knows exactly where they need to go, and when.

‘This is the nitty-gritty planning and organisation that will be required if we are to save lives and get the virus back under control.’

On Tuesday, Scottish public service trade union UNISON Scotland called on the Scottish Government to honour scheduled dates for staff to receive their second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine or risk thousands of vaccination slots being wasted across the country.

The change in the Scottish Government’s policy means health boards have been instructed not to administer the scheduled second dose vaccination and instead re-book other staff for a first dose vaccination in their place.

The announcement, which was made on December 31, came into effect on Tuesday.

Tom Waterson, chairman of UNISON Scotland’s health committee, said: ‘This week, in NHS Lothian alone, there are 5,500 staff booked in for their second dose vaccination. It is unrealistic to think these slots can be cancelled and re-booked with just a few days’ notice and there is a very real risk that thousands of these vaccination slots will be wasted.

‘This flies in the face of the Scottish Government’s plans to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

‘The Scottish Government needs to honour the agreed dates for the second dose vaccinations to prevent wastage and any undue stress on already under-pressure health and social care staff.’

Willie Duffy, UNISON Scotland’s head of health, said: ‘There was no consultation with trade unions on this policy change and it is not supported by clear evidence from Pfizer which will seriously diminish the trust and confidence of staff who had consented to the two doses.

‘There is also widespread confusion, inconvenience of rescheduling and, more importantly, a serious risk that doses of the vaccine may need to be destroyed due to lack of time to make new appointments for first doses for other staff.

‘It is vital the Scottish Government sees sense and commits to the scheduled second dose vaccination dates.’