More people over the age of 80 have had Covid-19 vaccinations in the north-east over the past week than in any other health board in Scotland, new data has shown.
Statistics for NHS Grampian, which have been obtained by the Evening Express, showed more than 9,000 people over the age of 80 had been given vaccines between January 21 and January 28.
And the health board has now delivered over 53,000 vaccinations to residents living in the Grampian region.
Across Scotland, 566,269 people have now received the first dose and 7,794 people their second dose.
The vaccination schedule is continuing as planned in the north-east, with older people and both care home residents and staff now almost complete.
North-east MSP Peter Chapman said that full praise should go to all NHS staff and volunteers working tirelessly to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups. He said he hopes that the current pace across the region will continue.
He added: “The vaccination programme is what is giving people living in this region hope right now as our best weapon against the Covid pandemic.
“That is why it is so welcome that the pace of getting the jab into people’s arms has continued at a great pace across the Grampian region.
“My full praise goes to the NHS staff and our volunteers involved in this rollout who are delivering these great numbers to protect our most at-risk and vulnerable residents.
“They must continue to be fully supported by the SNP Government to guarantee supplies of the vaccine will continue to get into people’s arms as quickly as possible in the coming weeks.”
The programme will now be rolled out to patients over the age of 70 and those who are clinically vulnerable booked in for appointments at the new mass vaccination centre in Aberdeen, which opens at the P&J Live venue today.
Letters were sent to residents in this category throughout last week.
It’s hoped that all those in this age group will have received their first dose by mid-February.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has urged people to take up the opportunity when they receive their letters.
She said: “The letters will contain information about the time and place of your appointment and details on how to reschedule it if you are unable to attend.
“I would urge everyone to take up their appointment when they are offered one.
“The vaccination programme is one of three key ways we are working to beat this virus, along with our expanded testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission and the important lockdown restrictions everyone in Scotland must follow. All these measures work to greatest effect when they work together.”
It is also anticipated that letters will start going out this week to those aged between 65 and 69 – the next group on the priority list.
The number of people diagnosed with coronavirus in Grampian continued to reduce over the weekend with 38 new positive cases yesterday.
There were 85 people in hospitals in the north-east and Moray – a decrease of five from Saturday – and nine people in intensive care.
A further 1,003 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported across Scotland since Saturday.
Health staff from NHS Grampian will meet with councillors this week to discuss a report examining the impact of Covid-19 on residents at an integrated joint board meeting on Wednesday.
It looks into the impact on older people in Aberdeenshire, particularly those living in care homes said to have a greater risk of mortality and social isolation, with 75.8% of all Covid deaths in Aberdeenshire reported in those aged 75 or over.
It also looks into how it has affected young people, who have been hardest hit by job losses and financial insecurity, and the report states that residents aged 18-24 are twice as likely to have been furloughed or to have lost their jobs.
Ethnic minorities and those with disabilities have both faced increased risks of dying and financial hardship, according to the report, with figures showing disabled people experiencing death rates two to three times higher than residents with no disabilities.
Residents living in the most deprived areas of Aberdeenshire were four times more likely to die than those living in the least deprived areas.
There’s also been an estimated 50% rise in the number of unpaid carers.
And the pandemic has also exacerbated some issues affecting LGBTQ+ people, affecting their mental health, and causing problems with drug and alcohol use for some, as well as isolation and abuse.
Councillors and healthcare workers will also discuss steps taken by the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership to minimise the impact on service users, as well as changes made to the delivery of care, with many services moving online.
The report said: “The adoption of digital tools has progressed at pace during the pandemic and has been invaluable in enabling people to access primary care support, whilst keeping vulnerable people safe and preventing the spread of infection.
“Many people have responded well to the move to digital methods of contact but for some this has been challenging with difficulties linking in due to a lack of digital skills and limitations to the support that can be provided. This is particularly the case for our older population and those with learning disabilities.
“Within our older people and learning disability services the suspension to care home visiting, closure of day services and training and skills opportunities has had an impact.
“Whilst every effort has been made to provide alternative means of social contact this has not always been suitable or preferable. These groups are particularly vulnerable to the virus and so this has also meant that during periods where restrictions have been eased this support has not been able to resume as it was prior to the pandemic.
“The closure of statutory and community services has impacted on unpaid carers. There has been an extended period without additional support and respite which they may otherwise have relied upon.
“Unpaid carers and families have found the last few months very challenging however there is also anxiety around accessing services whilst the pandemic continues. Paid carers coming into their own home, or supporting access to indoor activities presents further risks which must be balanced with the individual’s wellbeing. There has been additional responsibilities placed on young carers as a result of the pandemic.
“The loss of earnings due to the pandemic is contributing to a drop in living standards. The groups most likely to be affected by the expected rise in poverty include young people, ethnic minorities, and disabled people, who are already closest to the poverty line. Over half (51%) of respondents in the recent survey of Aberdeenshire residents agreed that they were concerned about future employment for themselves or a member of their household.
“Aberdeenshire North foodbank has seen a 75% increase in the number of adults and households they provided food to compared to the same period in 2019 3. The unprecedented financial impact of the pandemic has had an impact across all areas of Aberdeenshire.
“In our more deprived areas this has further impacted those who were already struggling. In our more affluent areas many people are experiencing new financial pressures. This pressure is indicated by an increase in new referrals for mental health support as a result of the pandemic.”