COVID-19 Vaccination Programme priority list: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

In relation to the COVID-19 vaccination priority groups:

Why the care homeworkers are set as the 1st priority group in Wave 1 to receive the vaccine, and the much vulnerable care home residents are at the 4th position in Wave 1?



The Scottish Government does not recommend one priority group over the other. The priority groups are instead based on advice produced by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Decisions to prioritise one population group over another are not taken lightly, nor are they straightforward. That is why our prioritisation decisions have been, and will continue to be, guided by the independent expert advice from JCVI.

The JCVI priority groups are based on either vulnerability to COVID-19, or on interacting with (and therefore possibly spreading to) people who are vulnerable to COVID-19.

In line with that prioritisation process, the Scottish Government offered vaccinations to all residents and staff in care homes for older people as part of Priority Group 1.

We are well into the vaccination roll out programme and as of today on 22 February the latest headlines below provide an overview on the priority groups being vaccinated, this includes care home residents.

Latest progress on first doses for selected JCVI priority groups:

  • 30,941 first dose vaccinations of care homes residents in older adult care homes have now been completed, exceeding the initial target, and 97% of residents in all care homes. This is based on our understanding of the estimated population from the TURAS Care Home Safety
  • Huddle Tool as at 11 January.
  • 42,461 care home staff (94% of staff in older adult care homes and 82% of staff in all care homes)
  • 290,103 frontline health and social care workers, exceeding the initial target provided by Health Boards.
  • 154,735 people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV: 86% of those on the shielding list) have received their first dose

The JCVI recommends that vaccinations should be prioritised in this order:





Residents and workers in care homes for older people.

Residents and those working in long-stay residential and nursing care homes or other long- stay care facilities for older adults where rapid spread is likely to follow introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality. This includes non-clinical ancillary staff who may have social contact with resident but are not directly involved in patient care, such as cleaners and kitchen staff.


all those 80 years of age and over

Starting for logistical reasons with long-term hospital inpatients who are over 80.


Patient facing, frontline healthcare workers.

Staff who have frequent face-to-face clinical contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care/community settings. This includes doctors, dentists, midwives and nurses, vaccinators, paramedics and ambulance drivers, pharmacists, optometrists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, radiographers and any associated support staff of independent contractors. It should include those working in public, private, third sector and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community- based mental health or addiction services. It should include Healthcare Improvement Scotland inspectors who are required to visit premises. Temporary staff, including those working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients must also be included.


Non-clinical but patient facing staff in secondary or primary care/community healthcare settings.

This includes non-clinical ancillary staff who may have social contact with patients but are not directly involved in patient care. This group includes receptionists, ward clerks, porters and cleaners.


Laboratory and pathology staff

Hospital-based laboratory and mortuary staff who frequently handle SARS-CoV-2 or collect or handle potentially infected specimens, including respiratory, gastrointestinal and blood specimens should be eligible as they may also have social contact with patients. This may also include cleaners, porters, secretaries and receptionists in laboratories. Frontline funeral operatives and mortuary technicians / embalmers are both at risk of exposure and likely to spend a considerable amount of time in care homes and hospital settings where they may also expose multiple patients. However, not included here are staff working in non-hospital- based laboratory and those academic or commercial research laboratories who handle clinical specimens or potentially infected samples as they will be able to use effective protective equipment in their work and should be at low risk of exposure.


Social care staff directly involved in the care of their service users and others

involved directly in delivering social care such that they and vulnerable patients/clients are at increased risk of exposure

This includes, for example, workers in residential care for adults and children, supported housing, and also personal assistants and social workers who have face-to-face contact in the course of their duties including child, adult, mental health officer duties and public protection. It should include Care Inspectorate staff who are required to visit care homes and other registered services. Young people age 16-18 years, who are employed in, studying or in training for health and social care work should be offered vaccination alongside their colleagues if a suitable vaccine is available.


all those 75 years of age and over


all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals


all those 65 years of age and over


all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put

them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality


Unpaid carers, including all adult carers and young carers aged 16 to 18


all those 60 years of age and over


all those 55 years of age and over


all those 50 years of age and over


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