COVID-19 vaccinations in Dumfries and Galloway are on course to see the vast majority of people aged 50 and above receive their first dose before the end of this month.
And second doses are also now being delivered at pace, with those aged 80 and over set to have been provided with the fullest degree of protection by the end of March.
But although more than half of all adults in Dumfries and Galloway have now received their first vaccination, the need to deliver two doses means the programme is still only somewhere more than a quarter of the way through.
As a result, new, additional vaccination locations are being added as the programme moves into some of the largest cohorts, looking ahead to moving through current limitations around vaccine supplies.
Some new local authority venues are joining the mix from April 18, and four cottage hospitals which had been tasked as COVID-19 step-down facilities are being brought online to support the programme as vaccination hubs.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway Chief Officer Julie White said: “Great progress has been made in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations in Dumfries and Galloway, with a real push at present to deliver second doses as quickly as possible.
“Our region has approximately 125,617 people aged 16 plus, and as of Tuesday March 15 a total of 67,770 first dose vaccinations had been delivered.
“And wastage of vaccine supplies has been kept to an absolute minimum, standing at just 0.18 per cent, or 142 of the 75,352 doses delivered to date – mainly due to the challenge of trying to ensure all five doses in the last vaccine bottle at the end of a day’s vaccination session can be used.
“However, we still have to vaccinate everyone a second time. So although care home residents and staff have now received their second vaccinations, and this is underway among health and social care staff and those aged over 80, we still have the vast bulk of the programme in front of us – albeit at an accelerated pace.
“Additional venues are being brought online, including the cottage hospitals in Moffat, Thornhill, Kirkcudbright and Newton Stewart which have been tasked as COVID step-down treatment facilities. This is possible at this time due to decreased rates of COVID within the region, but with the recognition of a need to remain vigilant and responsive to a position which remains precarious and unpredictable.
“In line with Scottish Government directions, vaccinations are currently focused on those people aged 18-64 with ‘at-risk’ medical conditions, people aged 50 and over and unpaid Carers.
“And as of this week, unpaid Carers who have yet to receive their first vaccination can now self-register to receive the vaccination if they are eligible, and we would strongly encourage everyone in this position to do so.
“This applies to everyone aged 16 and over who provides face-to-face care and support to one or more family members, friends or neighbours, where the care they provide is not part of a contract or voluntary work, and if when the person being cared for is under 18 they are affected by a disability, physical or mental ill-health or other care-related issue.
“To register for a vaccination as an unpaid Carer or check eligibility, visit the web-site nhsinform.scot/carersregister or call the COVID Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013.”
Mrs White added: “Throughout all this, it’s important that people recognise the importance of taking up the opportunity to be vaccinated, that they receive both doses, and that they continue to follow the national FACTS guidance aimed at preventing the spread, and protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.
“Particularly as we move through second doses, we’d ask that everyone take up the opportunity to be vaccinated due to the increased degree and duration of protection which this offers, and where possible to take up that chance at the date which is offered.”
Information on vaccinations is available through the national helpline, which can be phoned between 8 am and 8 pm seven days a week on 0800 030 8013.