UPTAKE of the Covid vaccine has been close to 100 per cent in Scotland among residents in care homes for the elderly.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that a total of 99.6% of people in this key priority group have had a first dose, describing it as “a scale of uptake that none of us really believed would be possible”.
“It is really important because that is giving protection to the group that we know is most at risk of becoming ill and dying of the virus,” she said.
There are around 30,000 people in Scotland living in care homes for older people, and all residents – regardless of age – have been offered the immunisation since the rollout began in December.
Overall, the vaccination rate for all care home residents in Scotland – once facilities for younger people with learning disabilities, physical or sensory impairments, and mental health problems are also included – is slightly lower, at 93.3%.
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Some 2,700 people are looked after in non-elderly care homes in Scotland, suggesting that around one in four of this population have received a first vaccine dose.
Although Covid mortality rates among the learning disabled were around six times higher than the general population during the first wave, they are officially included under priority group six – behind healthy over-65s – by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
JCVI priority list for vaccinations
In total, Ms Sturgeon said that 866,823 people in Scotland have been inoculated, including some 80,000 people over Saturday and Sunday which was “well over double the figure for last weekend”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “This is all very positive news, the vaccination programme undoubtedly picked up pace considerably over the course of last week as we always said that it would.
“And to see such large numbers, particularly in the groups most clinically vulnerable, now being vaccinated is extremely encouraging.”
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The latest figures show that 15.9% of Scotland’s population has had a first dose of Covid vaccine. That compares to 19.2% in Wales, 18.7% in England, and 16% in Northern Ireland – which was previously well ahead of the rest of the UK.
Care home residents and frontline NHS and social care staff will begin receiving their second vaccine doses from March 8, if not earlier.
Since Annie Innes became the first care home resident in Scotland to be vaccinated against Covid on December 14, 621 people in elderly care homes have died with the disease according to National Records of Scotland.
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Most of these were people not yet vaccinated, or those who had contracted the infection before or soon after being inoculated.
It is expected that vaccinations will start to translate into a reduction in deaths from Covid from around the end of February.
“It will be one of the things that start to make a difference in the weeks to come,” said Ms Sturgeon.