Covid-19

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 4th January 2021.

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The First Minister:

We have been very clear about that. The chief medical officer has made it clear and I have made it clear today. Unless the scientific advice at a later stage makes it clear that something different can be done, the policy will be that people get two doses of the same vaccine unless there are very exceptional circumstances, such as there not being a record of the first vaccine that they got, but that should not happen. That is clear nationally and for all health boards.

The precise timescales were not set out because we are not yet able to do that, for the reasons that I have set out. As the information becomes firmer and clearer, we will set it out. I have set out as much as I can today and we hope that it will become clearer almost daily.

I will consider the frequency of publication, but I want to strike a balance. It is a massive logistical exercise for the whole health system—we will, indeed, consider retired health care workers and anybody who can reasonably help us to do the vaccination as quickly as possibly—and therefore we have to make judgments. Is the extra burden created by daily publication of figures justified by the value of that information? If the answer is yes, we will do that, but if the judgment is that weekly publication gives us the information we need and that we do not need to put that burden on the system, that is the judgment that we will arrive at.

We are trying to support a very under-pressure health system through a global pandemic and those are the difficult judgments that we will continue to make. We will keep Parliament updated on the detail as we go.