Covid: Scottish care homes targeted by anti-vaccine groups in ‘wholly despicable’ campaign

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THE MAJORITY of care homes in Scotland have been targeted by anti-vaccination groups over the past two days, Scottish Care has warned. 

The organisation has said that it is “deeply concerned” by what appears to be a “concerted campaign to convince care home managers and staff not to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.”

They say care homes across the country have received unsolicited mail from a campaign group which has denied the validity of the vaccines – as well as the existence and prevalence of coronavirus itself.

CEO of Scottish Care, Dr Donald Macaskill called it “wholly despicable”.

He said: “I am appalled that care home managers and staff are being targeted by anti-vaccination groups.

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“To be at the receiving end of such a coordinated campaign at a time when many homes are struggling with live Covid-19 outbreaks is wholly despicable.”

The organisation also claims there has been targeted campaign on social media to create “uncertainty and fear” amongst social care staff.

The organisation has reiterated its position on vaccination in care homes, saying it will continue to advocate that all residents and frontline nursing and care staff receive the vaccine.

Dr Macaskill added: “We all want an end to the helplessness we have been feeling in care homes. We all want to see families reconnected with residents. We all want a restoration of normality.

“Vaccination is the hope which offers us the potential of achieving all this and anything that insidiously tries to spread mis-information and falsehood, to create fear and anxiety prevents us all from the protection we need to provide for our residents and staff.”

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Correspondence received by care homes includes the claim that the vaccine is “entirely experimental”, with “many unanswered questions” regarding safety.

It comes as a total of 3,331 people in Scotland have received a second dose of their Covid-19 vaccination, 141 more than the 3,190 announced on Wednesday.

The health secretary Jeane Freeman told Friday’s daily briefing a total of 224,840 people in Scotland had received their first dose by Thursday.

The Public Health Scotland statistics indicate an increase of 16,633 on the 208,207 vaccinated with their first dose 24 hours previously.

Ms Freeman previously urged Scots to ignore coronavirus jag scare stories, when it emerged that anti-vaccine messages were rife on social media.

Research from poll firm Ipsos-Mori and Kings College London in December found that one third of people have seen anti-Covid vaccine messages, and the rate of exposure to coronavirus anti-vax messaging rises to almost 50% for those aged 16-34.

But the health secretary appealed to the public to ignore the misinformation as work was under way to roll out the jag to the most vulnerable groups.

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In a statement released in December, she said: “We all have a common goal here – which is trying to get out of the grips of a pandemic. And safe, effective vaccines are now part of the tools we have to beat it. Vaccines have been around since 1796 and are a tried and tested science that has saved many millions of lives.

“In a year where everything has changed at such speed, I understand why some people feel overwhelmed at the amount of information that’s being shared, but it’s really important that we approach it with a critical eye.

“What is the source? Are the claims evidenced by facts? If a scare story sounds totally outlandish, then it’s really important we don’t give them the oxygen of publicity.” 

She went on: “It’s ok to feel concerns about side effects of medicines – we do too. That’s why we do clinical trials to assess safety and effectiveness.

“To get approval vaccines must go through rigorous safety processes and been given to thousands of people and then be subject to independent regulation.

“If you’re worried about people reading misinformation then try and encourage them to look at trusted sources of information.

“Our view on the importance of vaccination is shared by far and away most people in Scotland and we have some of the highest uptake rates in Europe for our national programmes.

“Getting the vaccine is your choice, but we have an excellent track record of safe and effective vaccination and this Covid-19 vaccine has been through the safe tightly controlled and rigorous safety programme and it will help you, your loved one and all of us see our way out of this to the lives we want to live.

“So when the NHS sends you the invitation to be vaccinated, please take it up.” 

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