Everyone given their first dose of coronavirus vaccine so far will be able to get their second dose within the next 12 weeks, Nicola Sturgeon has guaranteed.
With concerns having been raised about a dip in vaccine supplies, the First Minister was pressed to confirm whether those who have already had their first jag would be able to have the second dose within the necessary time frame.
Scottish Labour acting leader Jackie Baillie raised the issue with Ms Sturgeon, saying: “Can she guarantee that everyone due their second dose of the vaccine will get it within the 12 week time frame?”
Ms Sturgeon told her “yes”- as she hailed the efforts of all those who have been involved in the vaccine rollout as “beyond exceptional”.
More than a quarter of Scots (28%) have now been given at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, the First Minister said.
She told MSPs: “As of 8.30 this morning, 1,288,004 people in Scotland have received their first dose of the vaccine. That is an increase of 32,814 since yesterday.”
The target of giving at least one jab to all those aged over 70 and all those classed as extremely clinically vulnerable to the virus was met, Ms Sturgeon added.
And she said 58% of those aged between 65 and 69 had also now been given their initial jab.
But the First Minister could not say if any occupations would be given priority when the vaccine is rolled out to the under-50 age group – a process which is not due to start until May at the earliest.
Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson pressed her on this, saying: “To get us closer to normality we need to get all key workers vaccinated as soon as possible.”
While she said the details of this phase of the vaccination programme had not been set out by the Scottish Government, Ms Davidson said it would be “helpful if we could begin to understand more of their thinking on this”.
Meanwhile, Scottish Green parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone said that with the phased return to schools now confirmed as starting from February 22, teachers must be given priority.
Ms Johnstone stated: “While the return to school will be good for our young people’s education and wellbeing, it must be as safe as possible. That means ensuring that schools are well ventilated and not overcrowded if safe distancing cannot be maintained.
“Vitally, if schools are to be the first things to return to normal then it stands to reason teachers and other school staff should be prioritised in the next vaccinations phase after clinical needs are met.”
Ms Sturgeon said no governments in the UK had yet set out their plans for vaccination once those in the initial priority groups are completed.
She said this was because ministers were considering provisional advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), as well as waiting to see if they would issue “more considered advice on the order we would prioritise vaccination of the rest of the population after we have done everybody over 50 and everybody with underlying health conditions”.
The First Minister vowed: “We will set that out as quickly as possible, but all governments do take care to take, and to follow, the expert advice so we get this as right as possible.
“So we will focus on completing the JCVI priority groups right now and over the course of the next few weeks we will then give an indication of the order or priority of the rest of the population after that.”