Singling out occupations for vaccination would take too long and age is a better signifier of risk from Covid-19, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said.
She said Scotland will follow the latest Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice on the rollout of coronavirus jabs, which recommends people over the age of 40 are prioritised in the next phase, followed by 30 to 39-year-olds, and then those aged 18-29.
While the UK Government is bound by the JCVI guidance in England, the Scottish Government has no legal duty to follow it – but the Health Secretary has now said it plans to adopt the prioritisation.
Ms Freeman said: “We welcome the interim advice of the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation for phase 2 of the vaccine deployment programme to continue prioritising people for vaccinations by age, as this is assessed to be the best way to address the risk of severe illness and mortality.
“All four UK nations will follow the recommended approach for phase two of the vaccine rollout, subject to the final advice given by the independent expert committee.”
But bodies representing certain occupations such as teachers have taken issue with the new priority list, saying their members will be put in harm’s way more than most Scots and should be given the jab as a priority.
Speaking at Friday’s coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Freeman said: “I understand why some of our professions may be disappointed at JCVI’s advice but they are crystal clear about where the greatest risk factor lies, and it lies on age; it doesn’t lie on the basis of where you work, but on how old you are, as well as if you have underlying health conditions or are clinically extremely vulnerable.
“We are working through these groups. It is the right thing for this Government to follow that clinical advice, that well-thought-through clinical advice.”
She also told the briefing Scotland has recorded 27 deaths from coronavirus and 581 positive tests in the past 24 hours.
It takes the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 7,111.
The Health Secretary added 200,987 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 200,406 the previous day.
The daily test positivity rate is 3.3%, down from 3.7% the previous day.
There are 924 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 43 in 24 hours, and 80 patients are in intensive care – down nine.
She also said 1,542,929 people have now received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
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