Covid-19 vaccine can be sent to outer isles, NHS Shetland chief confirms

Doses of the coronavirus vaccine will now be sent to Shetland’s outer isles to treat care home patients, the health board’s chief had confirmed.

NHS Shetland received 975 doses last week, enough to vaccinate at least 400 people.

However, logistical issues to do with the need to keep the vaccine at an ultra-low temperature meant they were not able to be transported to the outer isles.

That advice has now changed with new guidance that allows the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to be moved by ferry to the outer isles.

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson said the update was”most welcome and will have a positive impact on our ability to vaccinate vulnerable islanders in some of the UK’s most remote care homes”. 

He added the initial approach had been “safety first” and that it was important to clarify arrangements for transporting the defrosted vaccine.

Contingency plans had been developed but Mr Dickson said: “We are pleased that these are now not required due to the extensive discussions between the Scottish government and the [regulator] MHRA.  

“This is a new vaccine and, understandably, we need to manage it carefully which is why we are taking the steps we are.

“As chief executive of two of Scotland’s remote island boards [Orkney and Shetland], I would rather we take a safety-first approach and, while that has caused a minor delay while we clarified issues, we can now progress confident in the effectiveness of the vaccine.”


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