Scotland’s health secretary has renewed his appeal for fellow Scots to get vaccinated as the mutant Omicron strain of the coronavirus has seen infections surge.
Humza Yousaf’s plea for people to get jagged comes just days after the Scottish Government announced it had logged more than a million Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
The SNP MSP said more than three million people have had a booster or third dose in Scotland, which he said offered “strengthened protection from the virus and reducing the risk of hospitalisation from the virus”.
“However, we believe Omicron has not yet peaked, and the pressure being felt by the health and social care system is extremely high,” he said.
“So, to protect ourselves and the NHS at this critical time it is vital people complete the vaccination course for which they are eligible. It remains vital that everyone gets their booster vaccine when they are eligible.”
Scotland passed the grim milestone of one million new cases on Thursday, when the Government revealed there had been 1,010,660 as of then – a figure which is now higher.
Nicola Steedman, Scotland’s deputy chief medical officer, said that data showed people were “significantly more likely to be admitted to hospital” if they were unvaccinated.
“We know that boosters provide the best possible protection against this variant of the virus,” she said.
“My clinical colleagues and I know the difference this will make – we see it in our hospitals and communities every day.”
Some 60% of hospital admissions at two of Scotland’s biggest health boards was due to Covid-19, a new analysis shows.
Public Health Scotland looked at how many people were in hospital due to Covid-19, compared to those found to have coronavirus once they were admitted for another reason.
Taking findings from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde on January 1 and 2 and NHS Grampian between December 30 and January 4, 126 patients across the two boards were found to have Covid-19.
Of that number, 60 were definitely in hospital because of the virus, while 15 were defined as “probable” – 60% of the total number.
Analysis undertaken last year found that 68% of people in hospitals then were because of Covid-19.
And with soaring rates of the virus in Scotland, many people have been unable to get their booster shot.
The health secretary said: “We know many people have been unable to attend appointments because of the virus, or due to self-isolation, so I urge anyone who has been unable to attend to rearrange it or go to a drop-in clinic.
“It is never too late to receive your booster – or a first or second dose – so please come forward as soon as possible, as there is plenty of capacity available.”
People aged 18 or over can get their booster jag 28 days after they tested positive or if it has been at least 12 weeks since their second dose.
People aged 12-17 can also attend for their second dose of the vaccine, the Scottish Government said, and while many will have had an appointment this group can also attend a drop-in clinic as long as it has been 12 weeks since their first jag.