Nicola Sturgeon says she does not want to rule out giving the coronavirus vaccine to children aged 12 to 17.
It was confirmed yesterday that experts are recommending children over the age of 12, who are at increased risk from the virus, are given the jab.
In her briefing at lunchtime on Tuesday, the first minister confirmed Scotland would follow the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI).
But she hinted that the Scottish Government’s position on it could change.
‘Extremely important it is not ruled out’
She said: “Given that it considers the risk of 12-17 year olds falling seriously ill from Covid-19 to be very low, the JCVI is not recommending that we vaccinate all young people in that 12-17 year old age group.
“I am acutely aware that other countries are vaccinating younger teenagers and I certainly consider it to be extremely important that this is not ruled out here.
“The chief medical officer is writing to the JCVI, asking that the benefit of vaccinating all 12-17 year olds is kept under close and ongoing review and that it takes account of all available data from countries already doing this -and I think that’s really important.
“If there is a benefit to be got from vaccinating younger teenagers then it’s really important that we make sure younger people don’t lose out on that.”
However, those who are aged 17 – but will turn 18 before October 31 this year – can now register for their vaccine.
The jab is already available to those aged 16 and 17 who are at higher risk of falling seriously ill.
The JCVI is recommending that 12-15-year-old’s should be eligible for vaccination if they have Down’s syndrome, severe neurodisabilities or underlying health conditions that mean their immune systems are suppressed.
Average case numbers down in last fortnight
It also advised that those aged between 12 and 15 with severe learning disabilities, with profound and multiple learning difficulties or who are on the learning disability register, should be vaccinated.
Lastly the JCVI recommended that 12-17-year-old’s who live with someone who has a suppressed immune system should also be vaccinated.
Meanwhile Ms Sturgeon has revealed that the rolling average of case numbers has dropped over the last fortnight.
A total of 1,604 more people across Scotland have tested positive for coronavirus, down from 2,529 last week.
Thirteen more people in Scotland have also died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.
Nearly 530 people are being treated for the virus in hospital across Scotland, with 47 of those patients in ICU.
Ms Sturgeon says the decline in daily Covid-19 case rates is “encouraging”.
She said: “Although case numbers remain high, they are very much right now on a downward path.
“To illustrate that point, in the seven days up to July 2 there were an average of 3,305 new cases being reported each day.
“But in the seven days to 16 July, that had fallen to an average of 2,212 new cases a day.
“That amount is at a decline in the last two weeks of more than one third.
“That is very encouraging and because of that we were able to go ahead yesterday with the move to Level 0.”
Four Covid deaths were recorded in Tayside on Monday, with 57 people being treated for Covid-19 in hospital and six in ICU.
Dundee’s case rate is 336.2 per 100,000 people, compared to 588.7 at the beginning of last week.
Angus’ case positivity rate is 263.3 while Perth and Kinross’s is 249.4.
There have been no new deaths recorded in Fife.
A total of 37 people are being treated for Covid-19, with the region’s case rate at 282.9.