Scotland has one of the fastest booster vaccine rollouts in the world and many who need it are now eligible for their fourth dose.
But how many people in Scotland have received their booster? Who currently needs a fourth dose? And will we all need a fourth dose eventually?
We’re answering your questions about booster vaccines and what the future of Covid vaccination holds for Scotland.
How many people in Scotland have had boosters?
The Scottish Government urged everyone eligible to get ‘boosted by the bells’ on Hogmanay, to help protect against Omicron.
Latest data shows 3,041,961 people have received their booster vaccine in Scotland. 2.98 million of these received it before Hogmanay.
The vaccine offers the best protection from #coronavirus.
It is the best way to keep yourself and others safe this winter.
Book your appointment or visit a drop-in centre now.https://t.co/G3sK7v7RGs
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) December 30, 2021
This means 77% of eligible adults received a booster dose before 2022.
Many who were eligible for the booster were unable to get it over the festive period.
This is due to the high number of Omicron cases and people having to subsequently self-isolate.
Anyone who contracted Covid over Christmas and New Year will have to wait at least four weeks from testing positive to get their booster dose.
Who needs a fourth dose of the vaccine?
Those who are highest risk for severe Covid (aged 16 or over) can now get their booster vaccine.
For this group of people, this is actually their fourth dose, as they were eligible for a third primary dose in 2021 to improve their protection against the virus.
If you’re severely immunosuppressed or were previously shielding and had your third primary dose at least 12 weeks ago, you’re now eligible for your booster vaccine.
You should receive a letter inviting you to book an appointment.
Will everyone get a fourth dose?
As we already know, immunity to Covid provided from the vaccines does wane.
This means those who have only had two doses are less protected than those who have had a booster.
But will everyone be offered a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine to keep immunity levels high?
Speaking to the BBC on Christmas Eve, Scotland’s National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch, said: “It would seem that we will probably need some kind of timed booster or next dose over the next few years.
“We don’t know that for sure, it may be that we just offer that to the vulnerable, those who are maybe a bit older.
“Remember, immunity is like a dimmer switch, not a light switch, so if you can turn the dimmer switch up and keep it up, then that’s what you want to do, because this disease is at its worst when it gets to people without immunity.
“Whether that’s natural immunity, whether they have a disease that affects their immunity, or they haven’t been for a vaccine.
“We will monitor people who have had third doses now, we will take blood from them, we’ll work out where their immunity is, and when that begins to wane over time, the Joint Committee on Vaccination will advise us to go again.
“We just don’t know when that will be.”
What are other countries doing?
Israel is currently rolling out fourth doses – the so called ‘second booster‘ – to anyone aged over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions.
Israel is the first country in the world to confirm a fourth dose to these groups of people.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says more people worldwide should be offered a first dose before wealthier countries receive fourth and booster doses.
Some experts argue this vaccine inequality is what caused the Omicron strain to develop in the first place and that this highlights the importance of ensuring everyone around the world can access the Covid vaccine.