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by Andrew Learmonth
15 November 2021
Over 40s to be offered booster jab

Over 40s to be offered booster jab

All over 40s in Scotland will soon be offered a third jab of the Covid vaccine, the Scottish Government has said. 

Meanwhile, all over 16s who’ve had their first dose will now be invited to take a second. 

The new guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommends those aged between 40-49 should receive their booster jab six months after their second dose, while 16 and 17 year old should now get a second dose at least 12 weeks after their first.

Initially, there were concerns about the risk of heart inflammation, known as myocarditis, in older teens, but the JCVI said they were "not detecting any increase in risk with the second dose". 

According to the latest figures, 1,183,769 booster jabs have already been administered in Scotland. 

The Scottish Government today launched a portal to allow those aged 50 to 59, unpaid carers who are 16 and over, and over-16s who are household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals to book a booster appointment. 

Dr Gregor Smith, the Chief Medical Officer, said this would soon be open to the over 40s, “once the earlier agreed priority groups have had their booster injections to ensure the most vulnerable groups are offered protection first.”

He said the government was still considering how best to implement the new advice for 16 and 17 year olds and would confirm the timetable for this shortly.

“First doses for this age group started in August and 76 per cent have now been delivered. We are delighted with the uptake in this age group so far and continue to urge everyone who is offered a vaccination to take up the offer and help protect themselves, their families and friends and their local communities,” Dr Smith added.

The expansion of the vaccine programme comes as one of Nicola Sturgeon’s key advisors urged Scots to limit who they meet over the winter, in a bid to tackle the country’s soaring infection rate. 

Professor Devi Sridhar said people should opt for “quality” of contacts rather than “quantity”. 

Scotland is currently recording more than 3,000 new Covid cases a day, significantly up on recent weeks. 

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Professor Sridhar said she feared increasing case numbers over winter could mean a need to introduce stricter measures. 

The Personal Chair in Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, said: "I think we need to switch from talking about restrictions to protections - in the end we are putting these in place to protect people from getting Covid, especially those who are vulnerable or elderly. 

"I think it's looking again at simple things; making sure people are wearing their face coverings on public transport and in shops, encouraging people to take their boosters when offered, and people who have not been vaccinated to go to a drop-in clinic and get it.

"No one regrets getting their vaccine - but there are a lot of people who regret ending up in hospital and wishing at that point they had gotten vaccinated.

"And limiting our contacts as we head into winter in terms of quality of who are you seeing each day over the course of the week rather than quantity.

"Because the more people you encounter the higher the likelihood that one of those people will be infectious."

She added: "The virus is still here, it's putting a lot of pressure on hospitals in Scotland, and so it's better we take a look at the problem as it really is, and try to get ahead of it to avoid harsher measures further down the line. 

"I would think, by looking at other countries, more tightening of indoor settings where it's riskier. Asking for certification when you enter an indoor setting. This could be again looking at other countries, things like for example vaccination passes, asking for a negative PCR test, even asking for recovery from Covid in the past 90 days if you've had Covid.

"The virus is finding people who are unvaccinated, and then it is transmitting at such a high level that it is also finding those who are doubly vaccinated but are much more frail. And what we need to do is limit that circulation."

Asked about extending vaccine passports to leisure and hospitality settings, Professor Sridhar replied: "I don't know, but I would give the advice to do that. 

"I would say at this point we need to step that up, and that actually if you look at public polling, there is encouragement that people want this. They want to continue their lives, going to restaurants, going to hotels, going to gyms - we want everything to stay open.”

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - SNP minister's 'disappointment and loss' over Derek Mackay texting scandal

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