Vaccinations for those aged 30-39 in Tayside have plummeted amid a push to instead fully vaccinate older groups.
First doses this month have fallen to as few as 15 per day despite over 1000 being administered daily at the end of May.
Clinics are still running at maximum capacity with second doses meanwhile shooting up to the highest level since the end of April.
The rapid switch in Tayside appears to be at odds with the rest of the country as other areas continue vaccinating large numbers in younger groups.
Why have first doses fallen?
The health board has made the decision to protect as many older and vulnerable residents as possible amid fears just a single dose does not offer as much protection against the new Delta variant.
A spokesperson said the roll out for people aged 30-39 will speed up again next week after the two week lull and stressed delivery is still in line with national timescales.
54% of those eligible in the age group have been vaccinated so far in Tayside.
This is one of the lowest rates in Scotland and far behind NHS Forth Valley, for example, which has hit 72%.
An NHS Tayside spokesperson said: “Clinics in Tayside have been running at maximum capacity for two weeks to bring forward second vaccinations in line with the recent updated guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to prioritise second doses.
“The progress made so far means that, from the end of June, people can receive their second dose at eight weeks as per the JCVI guidance.
“The NHS Tayside vaccination programme will complete all second doses by mid-September.
“There are sufficient stocks of both Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccines in Tayside.”
It comes as local areas are now seeing some of the highest case rates in Scotland.
Sturgeon: “there is still a sizeable proportion of the population not yet fully vaccinated. And full vaccination is vital.”
Stresses single dose protection not negligible but weaker against Indian variant.
— Tom Harwood (@tomhfh) June 1, 2021
Concern over Delta variant
Before the spread of the Delta variant, which was originally identified in India, the JCVI had stated it was far more important to give a greater number of people a first dose, rather than a second dose to fewer people.
It said modelling predicted this would “prevent more deaths and hospitalisations”.
However, after the variant began rapidly spreading in the UK, the body updated its guidance last month.
It said the interval between doses for the the top 9 priority groups (the youngest of which are 50 years old) should be reduced from 12 weeks to eight weeks.
Scottish Conservative North East MSP Maurice Golden has stressed younger groups need to be vaccinated too.
He said: “The only way to get out of this crisis and back to normal life is to ensure as many people are vaccinated as possible.
“And while this age group may be at lower risk, it’s still essential they get the jag urgently.
“That will keep case numbers down, reduce the spread, and allow life to get back to normal.”
Delivery ‘in line’ with guidance
The Scottish Government was asked whether health boards have been asked to prioritise second doses over first jabs for younger people.
The administration did not directly answer but raised no issues with NHS Tayside making the switch in focus.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are grateful to all staff and volunteers who are working hard to ensure the successful rollout of the largest vaccination programme the country has ever seen.
“It is down to the enormous efforts of our vaccination teams around the country that more than two million people in Scotland have now received both doses.
“Delivery of Covid vaccination in Scotland has been in line with JCVI advice, which sets out that people should receive second doses 12 weeks after their first dose.
“We continue to deliver first doses as quickly as supply allows while ensuring adequate supply for second doses.
“As NHS Tayside has said, it’s prioritising bringing forward second doses as well as vaccinating the 30-39 cohort – with the final half of this group being vaccinated next week.”