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Care chief blasts politicians for ‘playing games’ over Covid vaccine

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THE head of Scottish Care is pleading with politicians to stop playing games with vaccination figures.

The Scottish Government has come under attack for allegedly lagging behind England with its vaccination programme.

Nicola Sturgeon has faced criticism from Unionist politicians, who pointed out that a higher proportion of over-80s in England have had their first jag.

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The First Minister countered those claims on the Andrew Marr show, insisting Scotland’s method is the best way to reduce the death toll from Covid-19, with elderly care home residents being prioritised.

Scottish Care CEO Donald Macaskill urged politicians to focus on helping the most vulnerable.

“Can politicians and media please stop the #vaccinegame,” he tweeted. “What matters is the one target – maximum protection for the most vulnerable.

“That’s why #carehomes are a priority. It takes a lot longer to vaccinate in a #carehome due to infirmity, frailty & dementia distress.”

Macaskill added: “What is equally important is getting to the final 1st/2nd dose evidence. I hope families, residents and workers will get the 2nd dose as quickly as possible without detriment to those others over 80. Hard #vaccination balancing act of proportionate risk and protection.”

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Those comments follow expressions of outrage from the Scottish Tories, with Ruth Davidson and Jackson Carlaw claiming the vaccine programme has been too slow.

READ MORE: FACT CHECK: Claim Scotland’s Covid-19 vaccines aren’t reaching GPs quickly enough

Asked about the roll-out on the BBC‘s Andrew Marr show, Sturgeon said: “We took a deliberate decision in line with JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) advice to focus initially on vaccinating older residents in care homes because that is going to have the most immediate and biggest impact on reducing the death toll.”

She continued: “I heard Matt Hancock on the programme earlier say that about three quarters of care home residents in England had been vaccinated. In Scotland that figure right now is 95% of care home residents.

The First Minister said this approach takes longer, is more “resource intensive”, but it is the “right decision”. She added that Scotland was now “rapidly catching up” with England on vaccinating over-80s in the community, with around 40% having received their first jag.

Scotland is “well on track” to meet its target to give all over-80s their first shot by early February, the First Minister explained, with over-70s to be given vaccination appointments from tomorrow.

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READ MORE: Over-70s to be asked to come forward for their first Covid-19 jag from tomorrow

She added: “We’re all working to the same targets, overall I think we will see that we all are making good progress through this vaccination programme.”

Asked about supplies of the vaccine going to GPs in Scotland, Sturgeon said issues were “smoothing out and starting to be resolved”.

She told Marr: “We have had the rate limitation of the number of packs coming into Scotland which has limited supply to GPs.

“On this question of whether there is a more bureaucratic system in Scotland, I don’t think that’s the case.

“Although we will always look to see what we can do to simplify that.”

She cited comments from Andrew Buist, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GP committee, who warned recently that supplies were “patchy” for Scottish doctors.

However, has said since that Scotland’s vaccination plan is “good”. He tweeted on Friday night: “We’ve upped our game this week on vaccinators and vaccine supply arrangements – let’s crack on and get Scotland protected.”

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