The rollout of COVID-19 vaccine in the Western Isles is well under way, with those whose lives are most at risk from the virus being prioritised in the first phase of the vaccination programme.   

Who-gets-it-first is guided by the expert independent Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI), to make sure those most at risk are vaccinated first.  

Currently in the Western Isles, vaccinations have taken place in older adult care homes (residents and staff), and across the Western Isles for over 80s who are long stay patients in hospital and ‘red pathway’ frontline NHS staff (those more likely to have contact with patients with COVID-19). Wider groups of patient-facing health and social care staff are currently being offered vaccination, says NHS Western Isles.   

Next stage of the vaccination programme 

Our current focus is to plan for the arrangement of clinics for the next eligible group – those aged over 80 across the Western Isles.   

If you are aged over 80, you will shortly be contacted by telephone to arrange an appointment at a venue near you, for your COVID vaccination. Within this particular priority group, those in Stornoway, Uist and Barra will be contacted first, and those in other areas of the Western Isles aged over 80 will be contacted over the coming weeks.    

An information leaflet on the vaccine is now being delivered to all households across Scotland, so please look out for your copy. A patient information leaflet is also available online at: https://www.publichealthscotland.scot/media/2909/covid-vaccine-adults-leaflet.pdf  

It is important to point out that individuals will not be offered a preference of vaccine, unless there is a legitimate reason for this (e.g. allergies).  

We would encourage everyone eligible to consider taking the COVID vaccine, which is our best chance of bringing the current pandemic to an end. If you have been given an appointment and are unable to attend or would like we would appeal to you to let us know as soon as possible so that your appointment can be offered to someone else, and so we can reduce the risk of vaccine wastage (tel. 0808 196 8383).  

Second Dose of Vaccine  

As many members of the public will probably be aware, following a review of the clinical evidence in relation to both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines, the JCVI has recommended that first doses of vaccine are prioritised for as many people as possible on the Phase 1 JCVI priority list, in advance of second doses, to provide longer term protection.  

A letter from Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer to Health Boards stated that this reflects the need to reach as many people in the shortest possible timeframe, within the available vaccine supplies, against a background of immediate disease activity.   

We are therefore scheduling second vaccine doses in the twelfth week post the first dose.  

Further evidence on the rationale behind this decision is now available at

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prioritising-the-first-covid-19-vaccine-dose-jcvi-statement 

Priority Groups for vaccination 

The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations advises that the first priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of mortality and the maintenance of the health and social care systems.  

As the risk of mortality from COVID-19 increases with age, prioritisation is primarily based on age.  

The priority groups are outlined below, in priority order. If you fall within one of these groups, you will be contacted over the coming weeks/months to invite you for vaccination. 

Please be patient as we work through these priority groups. This is a significant vaccination programme, the largest ever seen by the NHS, and involves very high numbers of people in the Western Isles. You will be contacted by us if you are eligible, when clinics for your eligibility group are scheduled. 

  1. Residents and workers in care homes for older people.
  2. All those 80 years of age and over - Starting for logistical reasons with long-term hospital inpatients who are over 80.
  3. Patient-facing, frontline healthcare workers.
  4. Non-clinical but patient facing staff in secondary or primary care/community healthcare settings.
  5. Laboratory and pathology staff.
  6. Social care staff directly involved in the care of their service users and others involved directly in delivering social care such that they and vulnerable patients/clients are at increased risk of exposure.
  7. All those 75 years of age and over.
  8. All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.
  9. All those 65 years of age and over.
  10. All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.
  11. Unpaid carers, including all adult carers and young carers aged 16 to 18.
  12. All those 60 years of age and over.
  13. All those 55 years of age and over.
  14. All those 50 years of age and over.

Further Information Available:  

Website:             www.nhsinform.scot/covid19vaccine  

Helpline:             National Covid Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 Available 8am – 8pm 7 days a week