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Vaccine rates slipping in region as NHS Grampian falls from second best rate of jabs to second worst in a matter of weeks

The mass vaccination centre at P&J Live.

Picture by Kenny Elrick     25/01/2021
The mass vaccination centre at P&J Live. Picture by Kenny Elrick 25/01/2021

The coronavirus vaccination roll-out in Grampian has gone from second fastest to second slowest in the country within a matter of weeks.

The health board was previously praised after being named one of the best-performing health boards for administering the Covid vaccine.

However, that original fast-pace has now dropped to the second slowest in Scotland, amidst claims the P&J Live mass vaccination centre is not being used to its full capacity.

A source told the Press and Journal they were “shocked” by how few people were being vaccinated at the exhibition centre in Bucksburn this week, claiming only a dozen-or-so of its 80-plus booths were staffed.

At the start of last month, just over 70,000 people in NHS Grampian had received their first of two jabs protecting them against coronavirus, placing the region all but top of the table behind one other health board.

At the same time NHS Highland had administered 50,606 jabs while in the Western Isles a further 5,262 first vaccinations had been given.

Now, however, the latest figures show a reversal of fortunes, with NHS Grampian’s rate the lowest of Scotland’s 14 health boards, behind only Lothian.

NHS Grampian said “individual board performance may fluctuate, according to the population they have in each priority group” and that it remains “in line” with the national programme.

When the P&J visited the vaccination centre at P&J Live yesterday it was all but deserted.

Opened at the start of February, it has capacity for administering jabs to around 10,000 people a day.

Health bosses could not say how many jabs had been given in the previous 48 hours.

As of Wednesday, NHS Grampian has issued 173,601 first doses in total and 18,138 second doses of the vaccine, that being 35.8% and 3.7% of the population respectively.

In comparison, NHS Western Isles has administered 12,406 first doses, covering 55.2% of its residents, and a further 1,291 second doses to 5.7% of islanders.

NHS Highland has reached 43.4% of its residents with a first jab, administering 117,094 doses so far, and 3.8% of people have had a second jab, totalling 10,334 repeat injections.

Scottish Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire West, Alexander Burnett, said the dip in Grampians’ rates was “very alarming”.

“NHS Grampian has done a fantastic job in leading the way for the vaccine rollout in Scotland,” he said.

“It has become a real UK success story and it is vital that continues.

“But these figures which show a dramatic dip in vaccine rates across the north-east are very alarming.

“Latest figures show almost a million doses are currently still able to be used in Scotland so the public deserve an urgent explanation from the SNP Government as to why this slowdown is happening.

“The Scottish Government must get on with delivering supplies to the health board so they can get them into people’s arms without any further delays.”

The First Minister has repeatedly said that vaccination rates are currently dipping due to a fall in supplies country-wide.

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman added: “We want to reassure everyone across the region that we are vaccinating as many people as we can, in line with the priority programme set out and the supplies available to us.

“We are currently immunising those aged 16-64, with underlying conditions which put them at increased risk, and will be moving to those aged 60-64 in the coming days. In addition, appointments are now being issued to those aged 55-59 and aged 50-54.

“Individual board performance may fluctuate, according to the population they have in each priority group, but we are confident that we remain in line with the national programme.

“Staff at the vaccination clinics are working incredibly hard and we must thank them all for their efforts.”

SNP MP for Aberdeen South, Stephen Flynn, agreed, saying: “It is my understanding that as we move through the age groupings the number of people that fit into each category varies between health boards, as such, so does the number of people receiving a vaccine.

“The NHS are doing an absolutely remarkable job in delivering across the many varied communities throughout Grampian and they deserve our unreserved thanks for the brilliant progress to date.”

The latest figures show 1,825,800 people in Scotland have received their first dose of the vaccine, an increase of 16,642 since Tuesday.

In addition, 141,433 Scots have received their second dose, an increase of 8,673.

Ms Sturgeon says “virtually everybody” in the over-65 age group has now received their first dose.

Meanwhile, 45% of those aged 60-64, 38% or 55-59-year-olds and 31% of those aged 50-54 have received one dose.

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