New Covid vaccine to be used from next week

THE NEW Covid vaccine recently approved for use in the UK will begin to be administered in Shetland from next week.

The first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine, containing enough for 200 doses, arrived in the isles earlier this week.

Unlike the first Pfizer vaccine, it can be stored at regular fridge temperatures – meaning it is easier to transport.

A spokesperson for NHS Shetland said not all staff working in local care homes have been vaccinated so far, although “we are offering appointments to all frontline care staff”.

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson added: “Care staff are often part-time and work varied shift patterns. We will be accommodating their needs so that all who are able to have the vaccine can get it soon.”

Pharmacy technician Zandra Williamson with the new vaccine. Photo: NHS Shetland

When asked if domestic staff working in care homes and at the Gilbert Bain Hospital are also being vaccinated, public heath consultant Dr Susan Laidlaw said that “staff who have contact with patients and clients are being vaccinated”.

Health chiefs also said that care at home staff will begin to be vaccinated in the near future.

Dickson added that the supply chain for both vaccines is “no more volatile than any other supplied vaccine or drug”.

“It is dependent on a number of factors including transfer from Europe (Pfizer BioNtech), distribution, safety checks and specific to Shetland the weather,” he said.

Dickson added that the Scottish Government is “committed to ensure distribution is equitable across all health boards”.

NHS Shetland said earlier this week that it is hoped that over 2,000 people in Shetland could be vaccinated by the end of January, depending on supply.

Dr Laidlaw said that figure is “based on our understanding of vaccine supply which is starting off small and will increase significantly in the coming months”.

In an update earlier this week NHS Shetland said over 430 people – NHS and social care staff as well as care home residents – had been vaccinated with the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Shetland News