As part of this Government’s ongoing priority to protect Scotland’s health, I am pleased to share with you our winter deployment plan which represents the next stage in our broader COVID-19 vaccination programme. This is a significant milestone in our collective fight against the virus and recognises the need to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
More than 12 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have now been administered in Scotland. In fact, we have among the highest rates of COVID-19 vaccine uptake of first, second and third doses anywhere in the UK – a fantastic achievement in protecting those most at risk of against serious illness and death.
As we move closer to winter, we recognise the need to not only vaccinate those most at risk of severe COVID-19 illness but also to protect them against flu. Flu remains a very real threat to the health of many of our citizens and the preventative advantages that the flu vaccine offers means that we will be offering both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine to the groups highlighted in the deployment plan. Co-administration of this vaccine, where possible, means that in many cases those eligible will only need to attend one vaccination appointment which covers both.
Our decisions on who to vaccinate and when are guided by the clinical expertise of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), who have recommended a smaller but deliberately targeted cohort for the vaccines this winter.
Over the past two years we have witnessed the delivery of a mass vaccination programme alongside necessary and unprecedented lockdown measures which impacted the whole of society. The selfless sacrifices made by us all have allowed us to move out of the pandemic and into a new phase, where we no longer have COVID-19 restrictions. This means that the COVID-19 vaccine remains the primary measure in providing protection to those who need it most.
Life has returned to normal for many of us, but COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. So, while the level of infection remains as high as it is, we ask everyone to continue to please take sensible, basic steps in order to protect yourself and others.
Providing the vaccine to those eligible and protecting the nation’s health has required, and continues to require, massive mobilisation and collaboration across a wide range of partners. I am enormously grateful to everyone who is working tirelessly to make this programme a success and to ensuring that we continue to combat COVID-19 and protect ourselves and others.
Humza Yousaf MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care
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