7. On 11th March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a Global Pandemic with symptoms ranging from those akin to a common cold to more severe diseases affecting the respiratory system and resulting in death.
8. On 1st September 2020, the Scottish Government published its Programme for Government. As part of this the Scottish Government gave its commitment to promoting lifelong health and wellbeing - by tackling COVID-19, remobilising and reforming the NHS and social care and tackling health inequalities.
9. As part of the response to the COVID-19 Pandemic the Scottish Government established a COVID-19 Vaccination Programme guided by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice and that of Chief Medical Officers on priority and timescales.
10. Tranche 1 of this programme (to autumn 2021) offered two doses of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults over the age of 18; young people aged 12 to 17 who have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19; and children and young people aged 12 years and over who are household contacts of persons who are immunosuppressed.
11. Additionally, a single dose of the vaccine is being offered to all remaining 16 & 17-year-olds, and 12 to 15-year-olds not already eligible. In addition, individuals aged 12 and over with severe immunosuppression are to be offered a third primary dose of the vaccine. This offer is separate from the booster programme.
12. Delivery of the autumn/winter COVID-19 booster and flu programme (Tranche 2) is now under way guided by the JCVI advice on eligible groups and timing. Those who are at highest risk of harm from COVID-19 will be offered a booster dose of the vaccine at least six months following their second dose. NHS Scotland has begun to roll out its biggest-ever flu vaccination campaign.
13. The COVID-19 and flu vaccination programme potentially affects everyone in Scotland with an initial focus on the whole adult population with children coming into scope as scientific evidence of risk and benefit becomes available. Therefore the scope of this equality impact assessment is extended beyond the list of protected characteristics to include wider socio-economic considerations: including people living in remote, rural areas and island communities; in areas of multiple deprivation; prisoners; and migrant workers.
14. Based on the current available clinical data, and having considered the risks and benefits of the vaccine in younger members of our society, young people aged 12 and over are now in scope. We are therefore undertaking a full Children's Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment.
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