NICOLA Sturgeon today admitted Scotland’s weekend Covid jab rate was “falling off a bit” — after the number vaccinated on Sunday hit a record low.
The First Minister said there was no “explanation” for why only 9,628 doses were given out, the fewest since daily stats started being publicly logged.
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FM admitted weekend rollout rates had ‘fallen off’
It brings the total first jags tally to 575,897 amid a row over our slower rollout compared to other parts of the UK.
Ms Sturgeon was has been accused of making bogus claims to excuse Scotland’s slower vaccine rollout — as it emerged that all eligible English care home residents have now been offered jabs.
Ms Sturgeon has previously repeatedly blamed the sluggish pace on her decision to prioritise vulnerable OAPs in care homes, which she claimed “takes longer and is more labour intensive”.
But today England’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed every eligible care home down south has been visited, with all residents and staff offered the vaccine by local GPs — just days after Ms Sturgeon said residents’ jabs were “effectively completed” in Scotland.
And with Scotland lagging behind on jabs for the over-80s in the community, Lib Dem Boss Willie Rennie said Ms Sturgeon’s explanation for the slower rollout north of the border was “clearly a bogus claim” as he accused the Nats leader of leaving life-saving doses to sit in storage.
He said: “The public want to see the vaccine rollout accelerating — but instead we are seeing the worst daily figures yet.
“For weeks, the First Minister has been claiming that Scotland’s vaccination lag was due to the decision to focus on care homes.
“Now almost all care home residents on both sides of the border have been vaccinated and the gap is still widening.
Scots had their lowest amount of vaccinations on Sunday so farCredit: AFP
“The care home excuse was bogus. The First Minister has let people down when it mattered most.”
Sunday’s vaccinations figure compares to 22,899 the day before — which was less than half the rate of the 539,691 carried out in England on Saturday when populations are taken into account.
Some 575,897 people have now been vaccinated in Scotland since the rollout began.
Speaking at her daily Covid briefing, Ms Sturgeon took a swipe at the situation down south by pointing out 98 per cent of older care home residents in Scotland had received the first dose of the vaccine — rather than “just being offered” it.
Vaccine rollout figures slumped over the weekendCredit: AFP
She also told revealed 88 per cent of all care home staff have had their first dose, as well as 80 per cent of the over 80s in the community — compared to almost 90 per cent down south — and 14 per cent of those aged 75-79, despite more than half of people in their 70s being done in England.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It’s great news that England has now offered the vaccination to everybody in care homes. I’ve not seen an actual figure that is the equivalent of the 98 per cent that I gave you earlier on of people in older care homes actually vaccinated.”
She added: “We’re all trying to do this as quickly as possible, concentrating on the most vulnerable. So I think progress from all of us is to be welcomed.”
Ms Sturgeon said the number of over-70s vaccinated — as well as those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable — would accelerate this week after mass vaccination centres in Edinburgh and Aberdeen became operational today.
Tory boss Douglas Ross said vaccine rates had ‘fallen off a cliff’Credit: Alamy Live News
She stressed mid-February was the “key date” for when over-70s should all have received their first dose, and said she now expects many over-65s to also have been vaccinated by then.
The sites at Aberdeen’s P&J Live venue and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre give capacity for an extra 27,000 people to be jabbed per week.
Ms Sturgeon previously suggested smaller numbers recorded at weekends could be due to a data time lag but later clarified that had not occurred.
Asked today about the 9,628 vaccinations figure for Sunday, the SNP boss admitted there had been a “dip” but said she was unavailable to give an explanation.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It looks to me as if, for some reason, we are simply falling off a bit on a Sunday.
Lib Dem chief Willie Rennie accused FM of making ‘bogus claims’Credit: PA:Press Association
“But I’m absolutely clear to the team that if that is an issue — then we obviously need to resolve that, because we need to make sure we’re going at a certain pace, every single day.”
But opponents tonight urged the First Minister to explain why Scotland’s vaccination programme had fallen behind most other parts of the UK.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the rollout had “fallen off a cliff” for the second Sunday in a row — after only 11,364 jabs were carried out on January 24.
He pointed out that 984,000 doses were available to the Scottish Government before the end of January as a population share of supplies coming to the UK.
Jackie Baillie urged FM to consider 24-hour vaccine sites
Mr Ross said: “When we’re in a race against the virus, why are the SNP running backwards?
“All care homes south of the border have now been offered the vaccine, so the First Minister’s primary excuse has vanished.
“Hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses are available to the Scottish Government, ready for overnight delivery.
“Targets are changing and the goalposts seem to be moving.”
Mr Ross added: “The SNP’s sluggish rollout is miles behind the rest of the UK and shows no signs of catching up yet.
“Wales are managing to vaccinate more people than the SNP and they are a far smaller country.
“Finally opening the mass vaccination centres will help but why are the same problems happening week after week, without being fixed?”
And Scottish Labour’s interim leader Jackie Baillie said the First Minister should “show more ambition” by outlining details for a 24-hour vaccination delivery.
She added: “If we are in race against the virus then we’re losing that race and it is the people of Scotland who are paying the price.”
Quizzed today on Health Secretary Jeane Freeman’s previous target of having one million vaccines administered by the end of January, Ms Sturgeon said estimates had changed based on supplies.
The First Minister said: “The targets we have been working to over the last little while have been to get care homes done, to get over-80s done by the end of this week.
“We are ahead of that schedule and now to do over-70s and the clinically extremely vulnerable by the middle of February — these are the same targets that nations across the UK are working to and we are firmly on track.”
A further six deaths of people who previously tested positive for Covid were recorded in Scotland in the 24 hours to today, while 848 new cases were identified.
A total of 1,958 patients are battling the virus in hospital, including 143 in intensive care.
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