COVID-19 and Flu Vaccine Policy Aim
15. COVID-19 vaccines are a critical part of suppressing the virus to the lowest possible level, in order to save lives, protect health and wellbeing, reduce health inequalities and maintain quality of life. The vaccines produce an immune response that we know reduces severity of illness from the virus. It therefore makes a significant contribution to reducing the impact of the wider economic, educational attainment and work impacts of the pandemic on people, families and communities.
16. The COVID-19 pandemic has produced disproportionate impacts across a range of outcomes for a number of groups, including households on low incomes or in poverty, low paid workers, children and young people, older people, disabled people, minority ethnic groups and women. These groups and intersections between them have been considered in development of the policy approach and delivery.
17. Immunisation programmes are designed to help protect the population from serious vaccine-preventable diseases. The JCVI advises that the first priorities for the current COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems.
18. Our aim is to deliver our vaccination programmes in a way that ensures no-one is excluded, in particular those most at risk from COVID-19. The offer of COVID-19 vaccination will remain open to those newly eligible, or those who have not yet taken up the offer of a vaccine, for the initial programme and the booster programme. This offer will be reviewed regularly.
19. The COVID-19 and flu vaccination programme contributes to the delivery of the Scottish Government's National Outcomes 3 and 10.
- Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, at all ages;
- Reduce inequality within, and among countries.
20. The approach being taken focusses on ensuring as many people as possible who are eligible have the relevant information to make an informed decision about taking up the offer of vaccination against flu and COVID-19 this autumn and winter. Through delivery we aim to:
- Protect people in Scotland most at risk of harm from COVID-19 and Flu through timely vaccination of Flu and COVID-19 boosters;
- Contribute to public health protection and improvement;
- Ensure the programme is person centred and informed by those most at risk of inequalities in access to or uptake of vaccination.
- Support elimination and recovery from COVID-19, minimizing the need for non-pharmaceutical interventions;
- Reduce the pressure on the NHS; and
- Increase uptake rates for those most at risk of flu and COVID-19.
21. The complexity and pace of the COVID-19 vaccination programme has been unprecedented and progress has been remarkable. Along with testing and other safety and hygiene measures, vaccination remains our best route out of the pandemic and easing restrictions where we can, and we continue to strongly encourage everyone who has not already done so to come forward for their first and second doses.
22. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is an independent scientific advisory body charged with providing recommendations to all Governments within the UK, including on the safety and efficacy of vaccines. The advice provided supports the government in the development of a vaccine strategy for the procurement and delivery of a vaccine programme to the population. A Scottish Government Senior Medical Officer, Dr Syed Ahmed, is an observer on JCVI and continues to monitor the emerging clinical advice.
23. The safety of all vaccines and medicines is monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on a UK wide basis.
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