Sturgeon faces questions about vaccine rollout speed after drop on Sundays

Tom Eden, Douglas Barrie and Conor Riordan, PA Scotland
·4-min read

Nicola Sturgeon has defended the speed of the coronavirus vaccine rollout in Scotland after the lowest recorded daily number of vaccinations were carried out.

On Sunday, just 9,628 patients received their first vaccine dose – the fewest since the Scottish Government began publishing figures on January 11 – taking the total to 575,987.

For consecutive Sundays, the number of vaccinations has fallen to below half the previous day’s figure but the First Minister said she did not know why they were “dipping a little bit on a Sunday”.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon ruled out “lagging data” and said: “It looks to me as if, for some reason, we are simply falling off a bit on a Sunday … I can’t tell you any more than that right now in terms of the explanation.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

“I’m absolutely clear to the team that if that is an issue then we obviously need to resolve that because we need to make sure we’re going at a certain pace every single day.”

Ms Sturgeon also said the vaccination programme was “ahead of schedule” to give vaccines to all over-80s by Friday, with 80% of their first doses administered so far.

In care homes, 98% of residents and 88% of staff have now received a dose of the vaccine.

“We’re focusing on working through this methodically, starting with the most vulnerable and getting through these population groups as quickly as possible,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“The new vaccination centres that are coming on site today will help us to accelerate that.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Facing questions about why Scotland appeared to be rolling out its vaccination programme at a slower pace than across the rest of the UK, Ms Sturgeon said: “There’s a long way to go in this programme and it’s really important we do it methodically, sustainably – concentrating on the most vulnerable first.

“That’s what we have been doing and I think as we go through this week we will see further evidence that is what is happening.”

She also claimed the Government had “adapted our estimates” since the Health Secretary said a million people could be vaccinated by the end of January, but it was “firmly on track” with the revised targets for over-70s and the most clinically vulnerable.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Today’s daily vaccination figures are the lowest yet.

“The SNP’s slow Covid vaccine rollout is lagging miles behind the rest of the UK.

“They’re letting Scotland down at the biggest challenge facing us.”

Monday also saw two new mass vaccination centres open and begin administering vaccines.

The facilities at Aberdeen’s P&J Live venue and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) will be able to inoculate an extra 27,000 people per week.

NHS staff spent last week vaccinating each other as part of their inductions at the centres.

The EICC will have capacity to vaccinate more than 21,000 people a week at 45 stations while the Aberdeen site will start with 20 booths to accommodate around 6,000 people weekly.

Violet Adams
Violet Adams receives her first dose from Chloe England in Aberdeen (NHS Grampian/PA)

Violet Adams was first in the queue at the Aberdeen centre to receive her Covid-19 vaccine.

The 78-year-old’s first dose was administered by clinic co-ordinator Chloe England.

Elaine Slattery, overall clinical lead at the P&J Live facility, said: “It is very emotional to see the centre open and people arriving to receive their vaccine.”

According to the Scottish Government, the NHS Louisa Jordan in Glasgow has been vaccinating between 1,000 and 5,000 per day since early December and has the capacity to go to 10,000 per day.

Sarah MacLeod gives Margaret Swift her vaccine
Sarah MacLeod gives Margaret Swift her vaccine in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

The scale of the operation means this week letters will start going out across Lothian, Grampian and Greater Glasgow and Clyde to those aged between 65 and 69 – the next group on the priority list.

Margaret Swift, 69, from Edinburgh, received her first jab from Sarah MacLeod, who was part of the vaccination team at the EICC.

She said: “I’m a bit more relieved now, I was getting anxious there and a bit worried. But now I’ve had it and I feel okay so thank goodness it’s over with.

“You get yourself built up and worked up and anxious about it all – I can relax now.”