Covid in Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon defends Scottish vaccine roll-out

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media captionNicola Sturgeon says the approach in Scotland has been to prioritise care home vaccinations

Scotland's first minister has insisted that the country's Covid vaccination programme is not lagging behind other parts of the UK.

Opposition leaders have raised concerns that many GPs have not yet been given supplies of the jab.

And they accused the government of changing its target date for when all over-80s should have received their first dose.

Nicola Sturgeon admitted that target dates may have to be "refined".

But she said this was because details about vaccine supplies were regularly changing.

The first minister also said that the focus in Scotland had so far been on getting the vaccine to people living in care homes first.

More than 90% of elderly care home residents have now been vaccinated, she said, and about 20% of over 80s.

Scottish Conservative group leader Ruth Davidson said some GPs and the BMA had raised "red flags" about a lack of supplies reaching doctors.

And she said the government had previously pledged to vaccinate all over-80s by the end of January - but was now saying the target was the first week in February.

She also said focusing on care homes was no excuse for not getting the vaccine to GPs and called for answers on when things would get "back on track".

Ms Davidson said: "The vaccine isn't getting to GPs as it should, over-80s are being left waiting when they shouldn't have to and government timescales are already slipping."

She also claimed that the Scottish government's target to have vaccinated the top two priority groups - which includes all residents in care homes and staff, all frontline health and social care workers and all those aged 80 or over - by the end of January had now "slipped by a week" to the first week in February.

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image captionMany GPs have said they were still waiting for deliveries of the vaccine

Ms Sturgeon said target dates may have to be "refined" based on the government's developing understanding of vaccine supplies.

The daily figures for Wednesday show that England has vaccinated 9% of the total adult population with the first dose and Scotland has so far reached 6.9%.

But now that nearly all care home residents had been immunised, "our vaccination programme is gathering pace", Ms Sturgeon insisted.

The Scottish government, she said, had "very deliberately" chosen to focus on getting care home residents immunised first as they were at highest risk of dying with Covid.

Vaccinating care home residents can be a slower process than asking patients to attend vaccination centres, she added.

But Ms Sturgeon said that 75% of GPs now have supplies or were getting supplies.

image captionMs Davidson said many over-80s were still waiting on the vaccine when they should not be

She admitted that England appeared to be going faster, but said there had been a dip in the pace of vaccinations in recent days south of the border.

And she said that the explanation that the UK government had given for this in the media was that it took longer to vaccinate those living in care homes.

Ms Sturgeon also said that Scotland's vaccination programme was "ramping up", with the number of vaccinations administered on Monday of this week increasing by 56% on the previous Monday.

In England, she said the rate of increase was less than 40%.

She added that the majority of vaccines in Scotland "are already in people's arms", with the rest set to supply GPs and other vaccination centres.

And she denied that the Scottish government has been "sitting" on enough doses to vaccinate 87.5% of their first target groups for a fortnight.

The reason those vaccines have not yet been administered is down to "a really important, complex supply chain," she said.

Scottish Labour's interim leader Jackie Baillie questioned the first minister on how many doses of the vaccine had been wasted so far.

The first minister said the Scottish government used 5% as a planning assumption for how much vaccine may be wasted, but the wastage rate was actually about 1%.

Patrick Harvie, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, called for a crack-down on misinformation about the vaccine. The first minister said a marketing campaign was among the resources being used to make sure people are well informed.

And the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, said that since Christmas, Scotland has had the capacity to do one million more PCR tests more than have been carried out. He urged the first minister to make use of these tests.

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