Nicola Sturgeon ‘sorry’ after Scots wrongly refused Covid boosters

The First Minister said the issue had affected a ‘very small number’ of people after vaccination advice changed.

Katrine Bussey
Thursday 02 December 2021 13:17
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon apologised to anyone ‘wrongly’ turned away when they tried to get a Covid vaccine booster (PA)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon apologised to anyone ‘wrongly’ turned away when they tried to get a Covid vaccine booster (PA)

Nicola Sturgeon has apologised to anyone who was “wrongly” turned away from a vaccination clinic after the coronavirus booster programme was accelerated.

The First Minister said a “very small number of people” had been affected due to a “glitch in the system”.

It came after experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) updated their advice on how long people should wait between their second and booster doses, cutting it from six months to three.

Despite the updated advice, a number of people attending appointments for their booster on Wednesday reported being turned away.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon apologised to anyone refused a Covid booster (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood, saying: “We are still hearing this morning of people turning up on Thursday to get the vaccine they had booked and they were turned away, turned away despite having an appointment.”

Ms Sturgeon accepted some people were “wrongly turned away from the clinics” after the advice changed.

She responded: “I am very sorry to anyone who was turned away from a vaccine clinic yesterday.

“When advice changes, and the JCVI advice changed on Monday, then because this is a clinical procedure, there is a process for updating protocols and materials to make sure that everything is being done in line with clinical protocols.

“In the normal course of events that is a process that would take around a week. That has happened now already.

“We have taken steps to ensure that that information has been cascaded down to vaccination clinics everywhere across Scotland.”

The First Minister added that anyone who was turned away can now rebook their appointment and they will be vaccinated.

But Mr Ross said only five regional health boards in Scotland have so far implemented the updated JCVI guidance, adding five plan to do so “soon” but four have not given any update on the issue.

He said: “At this critical moment, we need to continue the success of the vaccine programme to tackle this new variant.

“The SNP Scottish Government needs to show the same urgency to rolling out the booster vaccines as was the case in delivering the first and second doses.

(PA Graphics)

“There is a backlog of close to two million people in Scotland waiting for their jag.”

Ms Sturgeon told him: “Scotland currently has the fastest vaccination programme anywhere in the UK, on first doses, on second doses, on third doses and crucially on booster doses.

“Particularly when advice changes very quickly, there may be glitches in the system like we saw yesterday, but when it does happen we take steps to rectify it as quickly as possible.”

The First Minister hailed the “enormous achievement” of the vaccination programme, and added: “This is one of these situations in a massive programme where the advice changed very quickly and very substantially, where yes I concede a small number of people had an experience they should not have had.

“We are rectifying that and the advice remains if you are eligible for your vaccination within the new guidance, go on and book your appointment.

“The guidance has been updated and people will be vaccinated.”

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