Vaccine passports are a “reasonable response to a very difficult situation”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Ahead of a debate on Thursday on the implementation of vaccine certification, the First Minister said a paper would be published on the issue and stressed that her government’s proposals don’t go as far as other countries.
The proposed certificates will be required to enter certain events and higher risk venues, such as nightclubs, music festivals and some football grounds, if the Scottish Parliament backs the move.
“Fundamentally, we believe that certification can help us reduce the overall harms caused by the pandemic,” she said. “It will to help to reduce transmission in some higher risk settings, and it will maximise protection against serious illness.
“And we believe – as has been seen already in some other countries – it will help encourage take-up of the vaccine.
“It also represents a targeted way in which we can – we hope – enable certain events and venues to continue to operate, even at times when rates of Covid may be high and even rising.”
The Scottish Government is moving to provide booster vaccinations to the most vulnerable in the country, Sturgeon said in an address this afternoon.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that those who are immunosuppressed should be offered a third jag, while it continues to consider if other groups may need the same.
The First Minister told MSPs: “We are now moving to implement this advice over the next few weeks and we will provide further advice to those affected by it shortly.
“We still await – and hope to receive soon – the JCVI’s final advice on a more general booster programme and stand ready to implement that too.”
A decision on vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds is expected “within days”, Sturgeon added.
The JCVI advised against the extension of the vaccination programme last week, but the four nations of the UK asked their chief medical officers to undertake a further assessment to see if jags should be given.
Sturgeon said: “The four UK governments have asked our chief medical officers to undertake a rapid assessment of the latest evidence and provide advice on wider benefits.
“We expect this advice soon – I hope within days – and the Scottish Government stands ready to act in accordance with any recommendations we receive.”
Sturgeon has said the help of “every business and individual across the country” is required to ensure restrictions are not re-imposed.
While she admitted to MSPs that there is a case for cautious optimism that the recent coronavirus spike is beginning to slow down, the First Minister said: “We continue to hope that – and indeed as I have been outlining, recent data gives us a bit more of a solid basis for this – we can turn the corner through continued care and caution and stringent compliance with existing mitigations and without having to re-introduce any tighter restrictions.”
In the last week, 75% of all cases have been in those aged under 45. However, further analysis of the under 45s, shows variation between different age bands – and also scope for some very cautious optimism.
“For example in the most recent week, the number of cases in the 0-14 year old age band has risen by 44%,” Sturgeon stated.
“While that is a significant increase, it represents a significant slowing in the rate of increase from the previous week, when cases in that age group increased by more than 150%.
“Cases in the 25 to 44 year old age band have also continued to rise, but again the rate of increase has slowed quite considerably.
“Amongst 15 to 24 year olds, cases have actually fallen in the most recent week by 18% – from just under 11,000 to just under 9,000. In the previous week, cases in that age group increased by 29%.”
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