Scotland offering fourth COVID jab

Another round of COVID booster vaccines is being offered to those at greater risk from the disease from Monday.

Spring booster jabs will be given to older care home residents, over 75-year-olds and people over the age of 12 with suppressed immune systems.

Letters will also be sent to parents of five to 11-year-old children offering them a first dose of the vaccine.

The rollout follows the latest guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

A fourth jab will be offered to people who had their previous dose of vaccine at least 24 weeks earlier.

Many of the oldest adults will have received their most recent dose in September or October last year, and there is evidence that immunity levels decrease over time.

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf encouraged everyone who is eligible for the vaccine to take up the offer.

He said: “We know that those in high-priority groups are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and I therefore welcome the start of the rollout which will offer a further dose to these people.

“Vaccination has been our most effective tool against coronavirus. However, the degree of protection offered wanes over time, which is why booster vaccination is needed to maintain the best protection against COVID-19 for those at highest risk of severe effects of the virus.

“The additional booster dose will improve your level of protection significantly and is the best way to protect your health and those around you.”

While COVID restrictions have eased significantly in recent weeks, case numbers have flatlined or even increased slightly.

The most recent ONS sampling indicated that about one in 19 Scots – about 280 000 individuals – had COVID, which was the second highest level since the start of the pandemic. The highest peak was in early January.

Many of the cases involve the Omicron BA.2 subvariant, which is more transmissible than the original BA.1 – although it does not seem to cause more severe illness. The latest ONS data suggests both BA.1 and BA.2 cases are rising.

The number of patients in hospital with COVID has also been rising since mid-February, although only a relatively small number of them have required ICU treatment. (BBC)

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