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Aberdeenshire MSP argues rural jab centres "crucial" for booster uptake among young

By Kirsty Brown

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MSP Alexander Burnett today urged the First Minister to retain the services of rural vaccination centres to help ramp up Covid booster numbers.

The Aberdeenshire West MSP spoke to a Holyrood Covid update, where MSPs heard more than 600,000 people over the age of 18 are eligible for a booster but have not taken it up.

Scottish Conservative Mr Burnett asked whether the likes of the Scolty Day Centre in Banchory would remain open as a vaccine centre.

The Scolty had been described as “extremely busy” by NHS Grampian in the lead-up to Christmas, but Nicola Sturgeon said vaccinators are now dealing with “a trickle of people rather than a big flood” and did not make that commitment.

Mr Burnett said: “With so many people contracting COVID over the festive period, many will not be able to get their booster for another four weeks.

“And as the First Minister said in her statement, more than 600,000 people over the age of 18 are eligible for a booster but haven't had it yet.

“And there are hundreds of thousands more who have not yet had a first or second dose.

“So will the First Minister therefore commit to keeping mass vaccination centres open for the foreseeable future, such as the Scolty centre in Banchory?”

The First Minister responded: “We will keep access to vaccination open and available and accessible.

"I absolutely give that assurance it will never be too late to get this vaccination.

“I'm not going to stand here and say that every single centre that was open and necessary where we were vaccinating large numbers of people on a daily basis will remain open, because as we go through different phases of this vaccination programme, different models of provision will be more appropriate.

“So a large vaccination centre when we're dealing with more of a trickle of people rather than a big flood of people would not be a good or an efficient use of resources.”

Later Mr Burnett said: “Even though there is a significant backlog of people waiting to get their boosters as well as first and second jabs, we still don’t have a detailed plan from the SNP-Green government about how they will speed up the rollout.

“Until one appears, keeping access to vaccines in rural settings will be crucial for the young people queuing up.”

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