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Scottish health secretary gives assurance over access to coronavirus vaccine for those living in remote areas


By Gordon Calder

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AN assurance has been given to a north MSP that the Scottish government will do everything it can to ensure all adults over the age of 18 get the coronavirus vaccine.

Scottish health secretary, Jeane Freeman, made the comment after Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, raised the issue at Holyrood.

North MSP Rhoda Grant wants an assurance about the coronavirus vaccine
North MSP Rhoda Grant wants an assurance about the coronavirus vaccine

Mrs Grant is concerned people in remote and rural areas will have less access to the Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

She pointed out that many of her constituents cannot access Covid-19 testing because of where they live and she wanted an assurance people in the north will receive the vaccine regardless of where they stay.

"They really need a reassurance that they are not going to be left behind," said Mrs Grant.

Mrs Freeman replied: "It is entirely for GPs to volunteer to do the vaccine, so the GPs and the practice nurse and other clinical teams are very welcome to be involved in this programme. We have reached an agreement with the British Medical Association on financial reimbursement for them to do that.

"The assurance I give is that we will do everything we can to ensure every citizen in Scotland who is eligible for this vaccine, so that’s all adults over the age of 18, is able to be vaccinated whether that be we take it to their own home or via a mobile unit."

Mrs Freeman added that a number of mobile testing units would be set up across the constituency.

Speaking afterwards Mrs Grant said: "I was grateful for the reassurances I was given and I will be delighted to see these mobile testing centres. People in many parts of my constituency have certainly had to be patient."

But she added: " Despite the cabinet secretary’s encouraging words, the real fear for many will be that the struggle to access a test will be mirrored by a new struggle to access the vaccine. I will be doing all that I can to point out to the government the nature of our remote and rural communities to make sure that it fully understands the situation."

Mrs Grant previously highlighted the large swathes of the Highlands and Islands where ordering a Covid-19 home testing kit was "a useless exercise" due to the postal delivery and collection system.

Independent research discovered that people in Inverness and Moray were covered, but large areas were not including postcodes in Caithness, Sutherland, Ross and Skye, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, Argyll and Bute, Lochaber and Badenoch.

Mrs Grant also found out that NHS Shetland set up its bespoke system and she asked the Scottish Health Secretary, if other rural and remote areas could do the same.



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