3. Impact of our COVID-19 Vaccination Programme
Vaccination has significantly reduced the link between cases of COVID-19 and serious health harms from COVID-19. The proportion of all people who were admitted to hospital within 14 days of a laboratory confirmed COVID-19 positive test has declined, from 12% in the week ending 31 January 2021, to 2% in the most recent week ending 12 September 2021.
Whilst the vaccination programme is having a positive impact and the link between new cases and serious health harm is now much weaker, it has not been completely broken as can be seen in the recent spike in cases and hospital occupancy. However, the rate of increase in cases has been less among fully vaccinated individuals compared with partially or unvaccinated individuals, again demonstrating the protection offered by vaccination. Also across all age groups, the rate of hospital admissions has been higher in unvaccinated individuals compared to vaccinated individuals.
Evidence also shows that vaccination is highly effective in protecting against death from coronavirus. Data published by Public Health England (PHE) has shown that high levels of protection (over 90%) are seen against mortality with all three vaccines and against both the Alpha and Delta variants (week 38 Vaccine Surveillance Report). Relatively limited waning of protection against mortality is seen over a period of at least five months.
The latest data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths by vaccine status can be found in PHS's weekly COVID-19 statistical report.
The safety of all vaccines and medicines is monitored by MHRA on a UK-wide basis and is kept under close and continual review. 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. Concerns about the safety of vaccines are not taken lightly. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) would take appropriate regulatory action if new evidence emerged calling into question the safety of any vaccines currently in use. The JCVI reviews data, updating their advice on use of vaccines where appropriate. Safety remains paramount in our vaccination programme, and we maintain a consistent approach wherever it is appropriate to do so across the four nations.
PHS has a COVID-19 vaccine surveillance strategy to monitor the effectiveness, safety and impact of all approved COVID-19 vaccines in Scotland. The strategy provides further details about the plans for long-term monitoring of the COVID-19 vaccine programme and its impact.