Sturgeon gives flu vaccination guarantee after delay fears raised

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Nicola Sturgeon has given a guarantee people across Scotland needing flu vaccinations will receive them without further delay after facing questions on waiting times for the vaccines.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions.

He gave the example of an 85-year-old woman who had not yet been given a date for her vaccination and pressed the First Minister to confirm all over-75s would be vaccinated by the end of the month.

He said: “We’re also being informed by GP clinics that many patients are having to wait potentially now until next month when the winter flu season will take hold.

“I remind the chamber that in Scotland you actually have to be over 75 to get the new aTIV vaccine this winter, not 65 as elsewhere in the UK.

“So how can it be acceptable that even under this Scottish Government’s regime of restricted access it is being delayed to elderly patients who need it now?”

Earlier, the Scottish Government announced the aTIV vaccine would only be made available for people aged 75 with a different vaccine being used for those under this threshold.

Mr Carlaw said: “I’m raising this matter today because this is now a major concern to constituents of MSPs right across the chamber.

“We’re entering the flu season and I raise it to get the reassurance from the first minister that NHS Scotland will ensure everyone who needs it receives this vaccine without yet further delay.”

The SNP leader said she would give that reassurance, adding the Scottish Government is not restricting access to flu vaccinations and every year local supply issues arise which are quickly dealt with.

“The vaccination programme is well under way, the vaccination programme is going well, there are adequate supplies of vaccine in Scotland overall,” she said.

“It is not the case that there are large numbers of patients waiting for the vaccine.”

She appealed for any local supply problems to be brought to the attention of the government so they can be addressed.

She added: “This is an effective and robust programme and I would appeal to every member of the chamber, including Jackson Carlaw, not to inadvertently undermine public confidence in the programme because that would be worst thing any of us could do.”

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