Health officials have announced that over-70s on Arran can soon expect to receive their Covid vaccinations, as they will be vaccinated at the same time as over-80s.
It was previously people aged 80 and over, residents in a care home for older adults and their carers and frontline health and social care workers who would be offered the coronavirus vaccine first.
The above groups, deemed most at risk, would shortly be followed by the vaccination of other groups – as soon as the supply of vaccines became available.
But now over-70s will also benefit, in a bid to simplify the logistical challenges that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine presents.
The vaccine needs storage temperatures of minus 70C to minus 80C.
John Burns, Chief Executive of NHS Ayrshire & Arran has said the most vulnerable will receive protection first.
He said: “Delivery of the COVID vaccination across Ayrshire and Arran is aligned to the prioritisation schedule outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), and communicated by the Scottish Government.
“This approach will help to ensure that the most vulnerable receive protection first.
“However, we have made the decision to vaccinate over 70s on Arran, along with those aged over 80, at this time too.”
He added: “The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can only be transported for a short period of time once it has been thawed, and so we have made this decision in order to minimise waste and simplify the logistical challenges of vaccinating priority groups on Arran.”
Already across Ayrshire and Arran,more than 10,500 vaccines have been delivered, including to front line staff within NHS Ayrshire & Arran, East, North and South Health and Social Care Partnerships and staff in care homes, as well as more than 2,100 care home residents across the region.
Vaccinations of those over the age of 70 living in the community began this week.
Elsewhere in Scotland, 208,207 people in Scotland had received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination as of Wednesday.
The Public Health Scotland statistics indicate an increase of 16,242 on the 191,965 vaccinated 24 hours previously.
And wastage levels for the coronavirus vaccine are likely to be lower than 5%, Scotland’s national clinical director has said, though the figure remains in Government documents for “planning purposes”.
Professor Jason Leitch said officials “absolutely hope” to get wastage levels below 5% as Covid-19 vaccinations are scaled up around the country.
Scotland’s vaccine delivery plan, which was published on Wednesday evening, included a working assumption of 5% wastage – where the vaccine goes unused.
Prof Leitch was asked about the plan at the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Committee on Thursday morning.
He said: “We have a rounded figure of around 5% for wastage – that’s what we use for the flu vaccine, that’s what the WHO (World Health Organisation) says is the rough global average.
“It’s difficult to be sure, of course. I would absolutely hope we would get it down below that.
“In the flu vaccine, we do get it significantly below that, but for planning purposes it is traditional to talk about a 5% wastage.”
He said wastage could occur for a number of reasons, including the seal on a vial being broken or human error in drawing it into the syringe – events he said are “rare but possible”.
In the health service, he said, if staff like ICU nurses cannot make their vaccination appointment due to work commitments, that dose can instead be given to other workers such as clerks to prevent wastage.
Prof Leitch said he hopes wastage will be kept to an “absolute minimum”.
The national clinical director was also asked about people who want to volunteer their services to the vaccination rollout.
He said so far, 4,000 people have been trained as vaccinators, adding: “We do not need mass volunteering at this stage of the vaccination programme.”