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by Louise Wilson
26 July 2021
Health secretary defends vaccination progress as key target missed

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf received his second dose last week | PA Images

Health secretary defends vaccination progress as key target missed

The Scottish Government has come under fire for missing its target of having all 40-49 year-olds fully vaccinated by today.

The First Minister last month told parliament that ensuring this age group had received both vaccine doses was an important milestone as Scotland seeks to lift public health restrictions.

The Scottish Conservatives have expressed concern that the plan to ease restrictions on 9 August has been put at risk as a result.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf has defended the vaccination programme, saying 91 per cent of all over 40s have been fully vaccinated.

The latest vaccination figures show three-quarters of 40-49 year-olds in Scotland have received both doses of the vaccine.

This is considerably less than what the Scottish Government had originally anticipated.

In June, Nicola Sturgeon said: “By 26 July, we expect to have given second doses to all 40 to 49-year-olds, and by 20 August, all 30 to 39-year-olds will have had a second dose. Finally, we expect to have completed second doses for all adults by 12 September.”

Video: Scottish Parliament TV

Just 37 per cent of 30-39 year-olds are currently double vaccinated, dropping to 22 per cent among adults under 30.

Scottish Conservative health spokesperson Annie Wells accused government ministers of being “in denial” about the figures.

She said: “Ministers need to get their act together and urgently up their game.

“The whole of Scotland and the UK’s vaccine scheme has been a huge success overall but in the final stages, the SNP have failed to reach young people by introducing a more targeted marketing campaign and increasing the availability of drop-in centres.

“Nicola Sturgeon previously said meeting this target was a ‘condition’ to easing restrictions. The 9 August date that we all want to be met is looking shakier than ever now, all because the SNP became complacent and missed a crucial target.”

But Yousaf said accusations from opposition parties were “desperate, to the point of being cringeworthy”.

In a short thread on Twitter, he highlighted that the proportion of 40-49 year-olds who had received both doses was consistent with the other UK nations.

He added: “[I] welcome scrutiny, but opposition hysterics bear no resemblance to reality. We have world-class vaccination [programme] that we should all be proud of. I thank all those involved in making it a success.”

The latest daily figures indicated a further 1,000 people had tested positive for COVID-19.

Almost four million people have received the first dose of the vaccine, while 3,092,102 have had both doses.

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