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Around 95 per cent of care home residents receive first dose of coronavirus vaccine

PA

Around 95 per cent of care home residents receive first dose of coronavirus vaccine

Around 95 per cent of residents in older adult care homes in Scotland have had the first dose of the vaccine, the First Minister has said.

Just short of 80 per cent of staff in the setting have also had the first dose, which Nicola Sturgeon described as "good progress" in the fight against coronavirus.

More than half of deaths from COVID-19 in the first wave were among care home residents, a proportion which has decreased to a third in the current wave.

Sturgeon said vaccinating as many care home residents and staff as possible with the first dose was a priority because it is a setting where it can have the "biggest and most immediate impact" in tackling the toll the virus is taking. 

It's a strategy that differs from the approach taken by the UK Government, which has prioritised vaccinating all of those over the age of 80.

Sturgeon said 34 per cent of those over 80 in Scotland have received their first dose, compared against 56.3 per cent in England. The Scottish Government has put this down to vaccinating care home residents first. South of the border, 63% of that group have been vaccinated. 

Scottish Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said: "Like all MSPs, I am being contacted by worried elderly people who are still waiting for their first jag. While the prioritisation of care homes in Scotland has skewed these figures, it’s clear that the vaccination roll-out here is still too slow."

Donald Cameron MSP, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said: "The SNP’s vaccine rollout has been far too slow and key targets are in jeopardy as it stands."

The second dose of the vaccine will be given up to 12 weeks after the first dose, which the First Minister said follows clinical advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, as well as the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

Sturgeon said at the lunchtime briefing that "as long as there is one care home with one case of this virus, it's one too many," before adding: "But we do see both in terms of the numbers of care homes with outbreaks, the number of people in care homes with the virus and the number of people in care homes dying being lower in this second wave of the virus than was the case in the first wave – but still too high.

"Why are we still seeing infections? This is a very infectious virus. We know the new variant is more transmissible, we know the nature of care homes make those settings, any institutional settings, particularly vulnerable, where there are people living in the same premises.

"And of course, when we have infections in care homes, the frail and elderly nature of the people there means they are more vulnerable."

Professor Fiona McQueen, the chief nursing officer, said the first dose gives "substantial protection" against the virus but added it takes around two weeks for the antibodies to start growing.

She said: "Clearly our care home residents are our most vulnerable and at highest risk from COVID and that's why very sadly we saw such a number of deaths – over half our deaths in the first wave were from care home residents – that's now down to a third or less, so clearly our care home teams are putting infection prevention control measures in place.

"From a vaccination perspective, you need to vaccinate between 20 and 40 care home residents to save one death, so clearly it was imperative that we vaccinated as many as possible while at the same time using the vaccine to vaccinate our other health and social care staff.

"The first dose does give a substantial protection against COVID-19. It doesn't kick in right away and there have been some people who have had an infection maybe a day or two, or three or four days, after they've had the vaccination.

"It does take about two weeks for the antibodies to start growing and that then continues on and provides further protection."

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