COVID-19 national vaccinations questions: FOI Review

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

Information requested

1. “Why is the whole country being vaccinated and what is the justification for this?”

2. “Why are we vaccinating people with an unknown medicine?”


I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed with modifications, to provide further information, as I have outlined below.

Question 1
At this time, there are currently no proven treatments for COVID-19, backed by peer reviewed empirical evidence. While a treatment that is effective against COVID-19 is certainly welcome, a vaccination is a preventative measure, which reduces your chances of being infected with COVID-19 and becoming ill in the first instance. It is a proactive measure, rather than a reactive one, which reduces your chances of the virus being passed to others, and help bring an end to the pandemic. At this time, we do not know if a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent transmission, we do however know that it reduces mortality and morbidity.

Question 2
All medicines, including vaccines, are tested for safety and effectiveness before they’re allowed to be used. Their safety continues to be checked while in use.

Each vaccine goes through a rigorous and independent three-phase testing process long before it can be licensed as safe and effective for use. Regulators such as the European Medicines Agency and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency review trial results and decide whether to approve the vaccine. During a pandemic, the timeframes can be compressed, but never at the expense of safety. This will be the case for all other COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK.

The safety of all vaccines and medicines is monitored by the Medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency (MHRA) on a UK wide basis. This includes reports from the Yellow Card Scheme which allows health professionals and patients across the UK to flag up suspected adverse reactions to any vaccine or medicine, as well as reports from worldwide use and on-going scientific evidence.

Additional information about the COVID-19 vaccines can be found on NHS Inform, at: The vaccines used to protect against coronavirus | The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine (

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