Almost four out of every five deaths from Covid-19 in Fife have been among the unvaccinated since the vaccination programme began, according to new figures.
Data obtained from NHS Fife using Freedom of Information requests shows that 142 of the 184 Fifers who died after contracting the virus were not vaccinated – 77.1% in all.
The virus has killed 28 people who had received their first dose of a vaccine (15.2%) and 14 others who had received both jabs.
Figures on positive tests since the week ending July 23 show that unvaccinated people account for, on average, 44% of those who test positive for Covid-19.
Around 36% of positive tests in the weeks since have been reported by single-vaccinated Fifers and the other 20% are double-jabbed.
No coronavirus vaccine offers complete immunity to the virus or a guarantee against transmission or infection: the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offers 63.09% efficacy against Covid-19, while the Pfizer BioNTech jab is up to 95% effective.
And given that almost 90% of the Kingdom has received at least one Covid jab it is inevitable that the vaccinated will account for some of the infected.
‘More important than ever to get fully vaccinated’
But proportionally, those who are not vaccinated are more likely to test positive for Covid – and more likely to die from it.
Dr Joy Tomlinson, NHS Fife’s director of public health, said: “The vaccine continues to offer the best available protection against COVID-19, and with the rates of the virus particularly high at present it is more important than ever to get fully vaccinated.
“While there has been very good uptake right across the adult population in Fife to date, we are still seeing many people, even young people, becoming seriously unwell who have not yet fully vaccinated against the virus.
“Everyone has a part to play in stopping transmission, and we want to thank the hundreds of thousands of Fifers who have come forward so far to get the vaccine and help protect themselves and the wider community.
“We also continue to encourage everyone to continue to protect themselves and their community by wearing face coverings, meeting outside where they can or in well-ventilated indoor spaces and maintaining social distancing as much as possible while levels of COVID-19 remain high.”
Public Health Scotland began collecting data on deaths and tests by vaccination status from December 29, 21 days after the vaccination programme commenced on December 8. This was to give the earliest doses time to become fully effective.
Fife slow to meet Scottish average
As for vaccination in general, Fife continues to lag behind the Scottish average. Almost nine in ten Fifers have received at least one coronavirus jab at 89.7%, some 2.5 points behind Scotland’s rate of 92.3%.
The Kingdom’s health board has been particularly slow in vaccinating 16-17 year-olds: while 60.6% of all Scots teens eligible for the jab have taken it up, less than half of young Fifers have done so.
The Kingdom has also been slower to deliver first doses to 30-39 year-olds and second doses to the 18-29 and 40-49 age brackets; for the latter it is 11.7 percentage points behind, at 83.7%.
Health chiefs are continuing to battle misinformation around the safety of coronavirus vaccines, which has been stoked and shared online since the start of the pandemic.
Dr Chris McKenna, medical director of NHS Fife and an A&E doctor, says those who refuse to get jabbed and end up contracting the virus are “full of regret”.
“If I have any message it would be to get vaccinated,” he told a meeting of Fife’s health and social care partnership last month.
“The people coming into hospital who are unwell are unvaccinated. If you haven’t had your vaccination please go get it.”
Vaccination clinics are available across Fife, with no appointment necessary. You can find details of your nearest drop-in at www.nhsfife.org/dropinclinics.