Supply issues see vaccine programme slow – but second doses pick up the pace

The pace of Shetland’s vaccination rollout slowed significantly in recent days as nationwide supply issues began to take effect.

Shortages of the AstraZeneca vaccine meant that just 290 first doses were given over the seven days up until Tuesday – the latest day for which official figures are available.

The number of second doses, however, has continued to rise, with 797 people receiving theirs over the same period.

It means second doses have outnumbered initial jabs for the first time in Shetland’s vaccination programme history.

Almost 2,000 Shetlanders had received both doses by Tuesday, around 10 per cent of the eligible adult population. The ongoing success of the second doses reflects the predominance of the Pfizer vaccine, which was used at the outset of the programme, and which has not been affected by the supply issues hindering AstraZeneca.

Despite the overall slowdown, more than 12,000 Shetlanders have received their first jab, almost two-thirds of the adult population.

Speaking last week, Susan Laidlaw, consultant in public health for NHS Shetland, acknowledged that supply issues may require adjustments in delivery of vaccinations.

“We flex our plans to deal with this fluctuation,” she added.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland was on track to have given first doses to more than half of the adult population by Wednesday evening, which she described as a “significant milestone”.

Ms Sturgeon also announced an update to the vaccination deployment plan, which she said confirmed Scotland was on course to vaccinate all priority groups by mid-April.

“It also confirms that, supplies permitting, we will have offered a first dose to all adults by the end of July,” she added.

“All that is encouraging and very hopeful.

“As we take part in the final First Minister’s Question Time of this parliamentary term, a return to greater normality for the country is now much more in sight.

“Of course, that all remains dependent on our continuing to suppress the virus.”


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