FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced what she termed a “very significant and very welcome extension” to Scotland’s Covid vaccination programme. 

The First Minister announced two changes to the vaccine roll-out in Holyrood on Tuesday afternoon. 

The first of these is that all children aged 12-15 in Scotland will be offered a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The second is that there will be a widespread roll-out of third doses of the Covid vaccine to everyone aged over 50, and younger people in certain groups.

Sturgeon said these changes would “help considerably” in the nation’s fight against the virus, and asked all those eligible for the vaccines to “please” take up the opportunity.

Booster Shots

Nicola Sturgeon announced that booster Covid shots would be offered to everyone aged over 50. A third dose will also be offered to frontline care workers and younger people with certain health conditions.

Third vaccines will be offered after an interval of six months from the second.

This, Sturgeon said, is in addition to the third doses already being offered to those who were severely immunocompromised or immunosuppressed at the time of their second dose. Adult household contacts of these people will also be offered a third dose.

The booster roll-out will happen alongside a roll-out of flu vaccines, with people being administered both at once "wherever possible", the First Minister said. 

In terms of the timings of this boost roll-out, frontline health and social care workers will be able to book their third jag online from Monday September 20.

Residents in care homes for older people will also be offered booster vaccines and flu jags from next week. 

Adults aged 70 or over, and everyone aged over 16 on the highest risk list, will be contacted by letter or by their GP "very shortly", Sturgeon said.

She also said that other eligible groups, such as those aged 16-49 with underlying health conditions, adult carers, unpaid and young carers, and adult household contacts of the immunosuppressed, would all be able to book their booster jags "from October". 

Vaccination of 12-15 year olds

The First Minister said that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) had found that the benefits to health outweighed the risk of vaccination for children aged 12-15, but said that those benefits were not enough to recommend a full-scale roll-out to everyone in the age group.

The JCVI said that the UK's chief medical officers (CMOs) could make separate recommendations on whether to vaccinate those aged 12-15.

Now, those CMOs have recommended that every child in the age group be offered a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This has been, Sturgeon said, "broadly endorsed" by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

The National: A young person receives a vaccine

From Monday September 20, drop-in clinics across Scotland will welcome children in this age group for a Covid vaccine, as long as a parent or carer accompanies them.

The following week, from September 27, letters will be sent to everyone in that age group offering a vaccine appointment. These appointments will also offer an opportunity to ask questions and address concerns, Sturgeon said.

There will then be a programme of vaccinations in schools in order to ensure that anyone who would like to be vaccinated has not missed the opportunity.

Covid Restrictions

The First Minister said that the Cabinet had met on Tuesday morning and decided not to change the Covid restrictions currently in place.

Sturgeon cited the percentage rise and fall in cases across different age groups, and said that even in groups where cases were rising, the rate of the rise had slowed.

She said that over the past three weeks the data showed that the peak of new cases may have passed, and so further restrictions were not deemed necessary.

READ MORE: BBC hit with backlash over Reporting Scotland coverage of First Minister's speech

Covid Figures

Previously, the Scottish Government announced that a further 21 people have died in Scotland after contracting Covid-19. The First Minister confirmed this to the chamber.

The deaths, recorded among people who tested positive within the past 28 days, bring the total under that measurement to 8263.

A further 3375 cases were also registered in the previous 24 hours, with a positivity rate of 11.4%.

Some 1064 people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed Covid-19. Of those, 89 were in intensive care.

A total of 4,144,904 people have received their first dose of a Covid vaccination and 3,788,551 have received their second dose.