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by Louise Wilson
27 July 2021
Nicola Sturgeon refuses to rule out going against JCVI advice on COVID vaccines for under 18s

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Nicola Sturgeon refuses to rule out going against JCVI advice on COVID vaccines for under 18s

The First Minister has refused to rule out going against the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the vaccination of under 18s.

However, she highlighted the group is still considering the matter and hoped it would be able to provide “solid advice” shortly.

Scotland’s chief medical officer is writing to the JCVI today about the extra urgency in Scotland given pupils are set to return to school in three weeks’ time.

A number of European countries have approved the rollout of the vaccine for all over 12s, but the JCVI has so far only recommended it for children with underlying health conditions.

A final decision on all children is expected within days.

Nicola Sturgeon said it would be “very controversial” to go against the expert advice.

But when asked directly to rule out such a move, she said: “I’m not going to predict into the future what might or might not happen.

“The JCVI is looking at this on an ongoing basis. I think it understands how anxious all governments across the UK are to make sure we get this right [and] if we are going to end up in a position of vaccinating young people, we end up there sooner rather than later.”

Sturgeon also confirmed that she will set out the plan for self-isolation rules for pupils next week, when she will also make a statement to the Scottish Parliament regarding next steps.

It is anticipated there will be a further easing of restrictions from 9 August, to be confirmed next Tuesday.

The First Minister said several factors “give us really strong ground for hope” about moving forward.

But she added: “We will need to do that with appropriate caution and an appropriate degree of care.”

The latest statistics show 1,044 people tested positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours. This was 5.6 per cent of all tests, which is the lowest it has been since 19 June and close to the WHO recommendation of having the number of positive tests below five per cent.

Over four million people have now received the first dose of the vaccine and 3,108,928 are fully vaccinated.

Sturgeon said the uptake figures were “quite extraordinary” since the programme was non-compulsory.

However, the Scottish Conservatives accused the FM of “downgrading” targets after it emerged that 76.6 per cent of 40 to 49 year-olds were double vaccinated despite her commitment to ensuring all that age group would be “given second doses” by yesterday.

Sturgeon insisted it was clear from “context and common sense” that any vaccine target referred to the offer of appointments, not uptake.

Conservative health spokesperson Annie Wells said: “It is clear that the First Minister has shifted the goalposts by changing the target from people being ‘given’ the vaccine to merely being ‘offered’ the vaccine.

 “When a target is set, it is unacceptable to change it at a later date, so that it becomes easier to claim success.

“By acting in this way, the government loses public trust and prevents proper scrutiny of their actions. The public deserve honest information.”

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