Almost three-quarters of eligible young people in the north and north-east have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to recent data.
This week marks the return from the winter holidays for schools across the north and north-east.
On Wednesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called on all eligible pupils to go and get their first or second dose as soon as possible in order to keep schools open.
She also asked secondary pupils and university students to take a lateral flow test before returning to class and then to continue testing twice weekly.
Children ages 12 and older are now eligible for a second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Across the northern and north-east NHS Boards, an average of 84% of young people aged 16-17 and 70% of those aged 12-15 have received their first dose so far.
Children in all age groups can attend drop-in clinics to receive their next dose.
How many young people are vaccinated?
NHS Orkney has the highest vaccination rates for first and second doses among young people ages 16-17.
As of Jan 5, 90.7% of young people in this age group have received their first dose. A further 77.5% are fully vaccinated with a second dose.
NHS Shetland has the highest rate of young people ages 12-15 who have received a first dose (81.5%). Eligible young people are quick to take up the opportunity for a second dose in the Western Isles and Orkney, at a rate of 28% and 17.3%, respectively.
Children ages 12-15 can now get vaccinated at drop-in clinics.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation says children in this group can get their second vaccination from 12 weeks after their first dose.
Visit the NHS Inform website for more information on the vaccine or to find a drop-in clinic in your area.
What are the new rules around testing and schools?
The Scottish Government recently called on asymptomatic secondary pupils to take a lateral flow test before returning from the holidays.
On Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon repeated this advice by asking all eligible pupils and staff to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“If you are eligible, please come forward now. The vaccine programme has been an outstanding success, but there are still many people eligible but not yet vaccinated.”
She encouraged anyone who needs a vaccine or a booster to do so “this week.”
Changes to self-isolation
Ms Sturgeon also announced two changes to self-isolation rules, effective Jan 6 at midnight:
- When someone tests positive they can now end isolation after seven days if they record two negative lateral flow tests and have no fever.
- Close contacts of positive cases will have to take a lateral flow every day for seven days. This includes under-18s and household contacts.
She said she hopes these new covid rules will play a part in keeping schools open by easing the pressure on staff caused by high numbers of isolations.
Near the end of the last term, schools across the north and north-east closed due to staffing shortages.
Ms Sturgeon said that schools and local authorities will receive guidance for implementing the new covid rules soon.