Covid-19 Vaccination

– in the Scottish Parliament on 20th January 2021.

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Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

3. It is good news that people in Scotland are showing strong support for vaccination, but we still need to take action to get as high a take-up as possible. Scottish Care has warned that the majority of care homes in Scotland have been approached by anti-vaccination groups, and the scientific advisory group for emergencies has advised that vaccine hesitancy might be particularly high among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. What is the Government doing to prevent the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories? What specific action is being taken to support vaccine take-up in marginalised communities?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

We will take on myths, smears and misinformation about the vaccine through a range of means, including through our advertising and marketing campaigns and in other specific ways. For example, the chief medical officer, the chief nursing officer, the national clinical director and the chief pharmaceutical officer are writing directly to care home managers to provide information that they can disseminate among their workforces. There will be webinars with care home workers to ensure that legitimate questions can be answered and addressed and that any myths and misinformation can be dealt with.

We should not be complacent about any group in society, but we can take the example of care home workers as a group, because that is where initial concerns have been expressed in recent days. As I reported yesterday, more than 70 per cent of care home workers have already been vaccinated with the first dose, which suggests that there is strong take-up and strong enthusiasm for being vaccinated.

We need to get uptake of the vaccination programme as high as possible in order to provide as much protection as possible, so we will have to do on-going work to take on anything that threatens to hamper progress. That is particularly important in ethnic minority populations and in more deprived communities, for example, and we will take forward that work.

The focus right now is to ensure that people in the clinical priority groups, whenever they live and whatever backgrounds they are from, are reached with the vaccine. That work is on-going across the country.

Photo of Patrick Harvie Patrick Harvie Green

The Government, Opposition parties and the media have a shared responsibility to avoid the complacency that the First Minister mentioned.

Of course, globally, one of the biggest proponents of dangerous misinformation on Covid, the climate and other issues has been kicked off Twitter and Facebook. Today, he is being kicked out of the White house, and it is time that we kicked his toxic brand out of Scotland, too.

From today, Donald Trump will no longer be the US President, and his business activities are under criminal investigation in the US.

However, Donald Trump’s purchases in Scotland have still not been investigated in spite of serious concerns about how they were funded. The Greens have long called for those dodgy deals to be investigated using an unexplained wealth order. Whenever we have raised that issue, the First Minister has told us that it is not her decision to make. Has she seen the legal advice from a senior QC that was published this week by the campaign group Avaaz, making it crystal clear that the power lies with her and her Cabinet? Will the First Minister stop hiding behind officials and seek an unexplained wealth order to ensure that Trump’s purchases in Scotland are given the scrutiny that is urgently needed?

The First Minister:

First, I am sure that many of us across the chamber and across Scotland will be very happy to say cheerio to Donald Trump today. “Don’t haste ye back,” might be the perfect rejoinder to him.

In advance of the inauguration later today, I am sure that we all want to send our congratulations to soon-to-be President Joe Biden and soon-to-be Vice-President Kamala Harris. Kamala Harris does not just become the Vice-President today; she makes history in a number of ways, for which she has my warm congratulations.

I have seen reports of the legal advice to which Patrick Harvie referred. I have not read the advice in detail, but I am happy to do so and come back to him in more detail. Of course, the Government has its own sources of legal advice. I have set out previously how investigations and decisions on unexplained wealth orders are taken. Such matters lie with the Lord Advocate. However, I am happy to look in more detail at any information that is given to me. If I think that it is appropriate to make further points, I will do so.