Vaccinating all younger teenagers against coronavirus should not be ruled out, Nicola Sturgeon has said, with Scotland’s top doctor set to write to the UK’s vaccine body urging it to keep the issue under review.
The First Minister said Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith will be writing to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to highlight the benefits of vaccinating everyone over the age of 12.
The JCVI has ruled out mass vaccination of healthy children for now but has updated its advice to enable 12 to 15-year-olds with specific underlying health conditions to receive the Pfizer vaccination.
Those aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person, such as a parent or grandparent, should also be offered a Covid vaccine.
But speaking during a Scottish Government Covid-19 briefing, Ms Sturgeon said it is “extremely important” that vaccinating all 12-17-year-olds is not ruled out entirely.
“To that end, the chief medical officer is writing to the JCVI asking that the benefit of vaccinating all 12-17-year-olds is kept under close and ongoing review and that it takes account of all available data from countries already doing this,” the First Minister said.
“I think that is really important – if there is a benefit to be got from vaccinating younger teenagers then its really important to make sure that young people don’t lose out on that.”
The latest figures for Scotland show 13 coronavirus deaths and 1,604 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours.
It means the death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – stands at 7,813.
Speaking the day after Scotland moved to the lowest level of coronavirus restrictions, Ms Sturgeon urged Scots to remain vigilant, despite a decline in cases of more than a third in recent weeks.
She said case numbers were “higher than we should be comfortable with”.
“Vigilance and care remain very important,” she said.
“Restrictions were eased yesterday as part of a gradual process, but restrictions were not abandoned yesterday.
“Important measures and mitigations do remain in place and we continue to ask people across the country, and I do so again today, to treat the threat that Covid poses seriously at this stage.”
For as long as people don’t take up the vaccine, there will be a vulnerability to Covid-19, she added.
She urged all young people to get the vaccine, after recent figures showed of people in the 30 to 39 age group just 81% have received their first dose, while the number is only 70% in the 18 to 29-year-old bracket.
“To put it bluntly, each and every young person who gets jagged helps us take a step back to normality, and of course the converse of that is true,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“For as long as there remains a proportion of eligible people who have not had the vaccine that leaves us with a vulnerability against the virus.”