FALSE claims by the Scottish Tories about the “vital” flu vaccine programme in Scotland have been exposed.

Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw, pictured, has been sent a written reprimand by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over a false claim he made last month about the vaccine.

In it, she reminded Carlaw of his “personal responsibility to be accurate and truthful” in his contributions in Parliament and pointed out he was misleading in his claims Scotland lagged behind England in provision of the vaccination to the over-65s.

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Sturgeon said she was concerned that despite the Scottish Government publicly making the true position clear, the false claim had continued to be repeated by the Tories, including in a press release just last week.

The National:

“As members of the Scottish Parliament we have a personal responsibility to be accurate and truthful in our contributions. In that spirit could I suggest that you ask that a note of the correct information be added to the official report so that the record can show the true position.”

She added: “I cannot emphasise enough how important the vaccination programme is and how vital it is that public confidence is not eroded by the use of false claims.”

Carlaw made the claim at First Minister’s Questions on November 22 when he said: “The latest figures on vaccine uptake which were published last week, show that only 39% of people aged over 65 had been vaccinated, compared with 45% at this same point last year. If the First Minister wants to compare with England, I can tell her that the figure for people under the age of 65 who have been vaccinated there is not 39% but 51.7%.”

Sturgeon said that his figures were false and he had wrongly compared Scotland’s position with England’s two weeks later, for the week ending November 11.

“The figure of 51.7% for over-65s in England was published by Public Health England related to the week ending November 11. As you will surely have been aware, the figure of 39% for over-65s in Scotland, published by Health Protection Scotland, was for the week ending October 28. In the simplest terms you erroneously compared Scotland’s position with that of England two weeks later. The October 28 figure for England for over-65s was in fact 33.8% – below that of Scotland.”

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She added: “In order to assist you in ensuring this error is not repeated you may wish to be aware that the latest uptake figures for the week ending November 25 for Scotland and England for over-65s have been published by Health Protection Scotland and Public Health England. The latest comparable figure in England was 62.5%, lower than the rate in Scotland of 63.3%.

“I hope I can count on you to encourage those people in eligible groups who are not yet vaccinated to take the opportunity of vaccination.”

She added that since he had raised the matter in November, one of his colleagues had raised concerns about one practice which were “quickly investigated and the named GP practice found to have no issue with flu vaccine stock”.

A Scottish Tory spokesperson said: “It’s clear that more needs to be done to ensure everyone who needs a vaccination gets one, but despite the SNP Government having all year to get ready for this we’re still having to raise very serious concerns.”