The rollout of a third “booster” vaccine against Covid is expected to begin from September in Scotland, the government has said.
It follows new advice from the UK vaccines body that recommended a third jab for the most vulnerable from September this year.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation [JCVI] has said the third coronavirus vaccine should be offered in two stages from September.
As with the initial priority groups at the start of the Covid vaccine rollout, the third booster jab will start with those at risk from serious disease.
This will include care home residents, people aged over 70, frontline NHS and social care workers and those with significant health problems.
Confirming they had received the JCVI report, the Scottish Government said it was working with health boards to prepare the rollout.
But a spokesperson said it was too early to set target dates, with the JCVI expected to look at additional data.
They said: “We have welcomed interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on a potential Covid-19 vaccine booster programme and we are working closely with NHS boards to plan for this as a next step in our COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
“It is too early to set a target as the Committee will be looking at additional scientific data as it becomes available over the next few months.
“However, we do expect to begin the roll-out from September to priority groups as set out in the Committee’s interim advice.”
They explained the rollout would be done alongside the annual flu vaccination programme, which takes place every year.
The spokesperson added: “The current Covid-19 vaccination programme continues at pace and remains on schedule to complete adult first doses ahead of target next month, and second doses in September.
Third Covid booster vaccine advice ‘could change’
“It remains vital that everyone has both doses of the vaccine for greatest protection.”
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 Chair for JCVI, said: “The primary objective of any potential Covid-19 booster vaccine programme should be to reduce serious disease, including death.
“The JCVI’s interim advice is that, should a booster programme be required, a third Covid-19 vaccine dose should be offered to the most vulnerable first, starting from September 2021 to maximise individual protection and safeguard the NHS ahead of winter.
“Almost all these people would also be eligible for the annual flu vaccine and are strongly advised to have the flu vaccine.
“We will continue to review emerging scientific data over the next few months, including data relating to the duration of immunity from the current vaccines.
“Our final advice on booster vaccination may change substantially.”