Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Remote Shetland islands set to lift bunker lid as full vaccination nears completion

Fair Isle is now fully vaccinated and looking forward to welcoming visitors as restrictions permit
Fair Isle is now fully vaccinated and looking forward to welcoming visitors as restrictions permit

Defying complex logistical and weather challenges, residents on four of the most inaccessible islands in the UK will shortly be fully vaccinated and looking forward to welcoming visitors as soon as restrictions allow.

By the end of this month, all eligible adults on the Shetland islands of Fair Isle, Fetlar, Foula and Out Skerries will have received both doses.

Weather permitting, the 26 adults on Skerries will complete their vaccinations today.

On Foula, 14 second-dose vaccinations are scheduled to take place next Wednesday.

Fetlar’s 48 adults have already received both vaccinations, while Fair Isle’s 35 adults received their second dose last Monday.

NHS Shetland’s chief nurse Edna Mary Watson said the challenges involved require a particular mindset to overcome.

“Foula and Fair Isle are accessed by six seater planes, so in the unpredictable weather travel is a challenge.

“The other islands are reached by ferry, sometimes two or three ferries.

“When the sea is rough or the winds high, the ferries are cancelled.

“This is all part of the challenge of providing health and care in remote and rural communities and we are very grateful and proud of our team of community nurses who understand the challenges and have a flexible and can-do mindset.”

Faced with the challenges, heading to and fro to roll the vaccines out to different age groups in step with the national programme made no sense, so once there, everyone eligible got the jab.

The board’s interim chief executive Michael Dickson says faced with no intensive care facilities on Shetland, residents of the remote islands had bunkered down hard to avoid Covid coming into their communities.

“If you get sick in one of the outer isles, getting help is a complicated process, so it was really important that we were able to vaccinate them as soon as possible.

“The logistical challenges of even getting a freezer that can store the vaccine at -70 degrees to Shetland meant a delay in getting the first Pfizer vaccines here and then out to places that are particularly windy like Fair Isle, so we had to establish quickly whether we were able to transport the vaccine by plane once it had been defrosted.

“It’s quite fragile, not a vaccine that you want to bang about, so at the start we had to pause our planned roll out to the outer isles because we weren’t clear we were able to transport it by plane.

“Luckily we got clearance that that was OK, and it is treated with great respect and very carefully, simply because we know how important it is to the island communities.”

Although Shetland was one of the first places to have Covid cases in the UK, and for a while one of the worst affected spots, the remote islands managed to keep it at bay.

Mr Dickson said: “Full credit to the communities, they took a difficult decision.

“They’re really friendly welcoming places but they took a decision to bunker down and avoid contact, and adapted really well.

“They are so heavily dependent on tourism, being fully vaccinated gives them an opportunity to start to get back to as close to normal as possible, and they’re looking forward to welcoming people back onto their islands.”

Meanwhile, none of the other remote Scottish islands are so far fully vaccinated, with their boards rolling out the jabs in step with the national programme or as supplies permit.

 

 

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]