Scotland’s First Minister urged people to get vaccinated as she got her Covid-19 booster vaccine but said she cannot guarantee the programme will be free of “glitches” such as people being turned away from appointments.
Nicola Sturgeon’s comments came after she received her booster and flu jags in Glasgow on Saturday as Scotland recorded 14 coronavirus-linked deaths and 1,257 new cases in 24 hours.
One case of the new Omicron variant has been confirmed in that time, in NHS Grampian, taking the total people infected with the variant to 30.
Getting vaccinated is still the single most important thing we can do to protect each other.
— First Minister (@ScotGovFM) December 4, 2021
The Scottish Government said Public Health Scotland is “aware of a processing issue with UK Government lab tests contributing to lower than expected cases and tests” in the daily figures and investigations are ongoing to resolve the problem.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has 11 new variant cases, followed by NHS Lanarkshire with nine, five in NHS Forth Valley, three in NHS Highland and two in NHS Grampian.
Ms Sturgeon was given her Covid-19 booster and flu vaccinations at a sports centre in Easterhouse which is being used as a vaccination site.
“Please come forward for your vaccination. It’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself but it is also helping protect around you,” she said.
“If you haven’t had your first or second doses yet, please do that, it is never too late but increasingly our message is to people to get boosted as soon possible.
“We know that the booster vaccination gives you significant added protection – not just marginal added protection – so it really makes a difference.
“That was important before the emergence of the new variant, it’s even more important now.”
Earlier this week she apologised at the Scottish Parliament saying a “very small number” of people had been turned away from their booster appointment as the waiting time for the top-up jags was cut from six months to three.
“This is a massive programme and we work to minimise any glitches that lead to inconvenience for people but I can’t guarantee that won’t happen,” she said on Saturday.
“What I do know is that this programme is going really well and it’s not down to me or the Government, it’s down the vaccinators that are in clinics like this.”
The First Minister said the problems were “a factor of us moving more quickly than other governments” and Scotland is leading the UK on booster jags.
She added: “Yesterday, the Government in England confirmed that they weren’t making this change in the protocol, so if you are three months from your second dose in England right now you still can’t get your vaccine.
“You can in Scotland because we’ve moved more quickly. Yes, that speed meant we had a bit of difficulty as that turned over but that’s the right thing to do.”
She urged people to be vigilant, get tested, follow rules around face coverings, ventilation and hygiene, adding that community transmission of the new variant is “reasonably limited” but she expects cases to rise, perhaps “significantly” in the coming days.
“Often the difficult thing for decision-makers, although it is the job of people like me, is that we often have to act before the data is telling us that there is a problem because if we wait all the time for the data to tell us there is a problem it can be too late to take the action that is necessary,” she said.
“I hope we don’t have to introduce any further protections in addition to those we have in place right now but we can’t rule anything out.
“We saw in Ireland just yesterday significant new restrictions being imposed again.
“We’ve got to operate in a way that is designed to keep people as safe as possible and that’s a duty the Scottish Government takes very seriously so everything has to be kept under review on an ongoing basis.”
The daily figures published by the Scottish Government indicate the Covid-19 death toll under the daily measure, of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days, is 9,648.
The daily test positivity rate was 5.9%, down from 7.6% the previous day.
There were 605 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19 as of Friday night and, of these, 50 were in intensive care.
So far, 4,351,214 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination, 3,956,719 have had a second, and 1,823,515 have been given a third dose or booster.