Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 13th July 2021.

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The First Minister:

That is a really important issue and I will address the detail of the question. Although immunosuppressive therapies, such as certain cancer treatments, might reduce the effectiveness of the Covid vaccines, it is still recommended that all patients with cancer should consider getting the vaccine, and I encourage them to do so. For those who are already receiving immunosuppressive treatment, second doses—again, in line with clinical advice—are being brought forward to three or four weeks after the first dose to provide maximum benefit. We have also prioritised the vaccination of adult household members of those with suppressed immune systems, to minimise the risk to vulnerable individuals.

Over the past 16 months, we have learned that, as we unlock society, we will inevitably again see a rise in Covid cases. As I said, guidance for those on the shielding list will be provided, and we will continue to update that guidance as necessary.

I repeat the central point that I made earlier: nobody will be abandoned so that the majority can live freely while a minority—those who have particular health conditions or those who are receiving particular treatment—effectively have to continue to shield. We will take a balanced approach to ensure maximum protection for everyone.