Scottish Daily Mail
EMERGENCY JABS TO STEM COVID SURGE
Vaccines SOS for adults aged 18-39 Moray virus rate now ‘uncontrolled’
A RAPID vaccination programme has been put in place in the face of an ‘uncontrolled’ surge in Covid-19 cases in Moray.
Adults aged between 18 and 39 will have their vaccinations brought forward after NHS bosses sent in an incident management team (IMT) to deal with an escalating number of cases.
NHS Grampian has warned of imminent deaths due to an ‘uncontrolled, sustained community transmission’ of coronavirus as staff return to workplaces in the region.
The area now has 79.3 cases per 100,000, way above the national average of 21.4.
East Dunbartonshire has the second highest with 37.7, while neighbouring Aberdeenshire is at ten and Highland 11.
Katrina Morrison, who is the clinical lead nurse for the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, said: ‘Additional Covid-19 Pfizer vaccination stock and the concerning, uncontrolled, sustained community transmission of Covid-19 in Moray has made this decision straightforward.
‘It needs to happen quickly and our staff have been mobilised to speed up the process. All those aged 18-39 years in Moray who have not yet received their Covid-19 vaccination as part of the earlier priority cohort groups will be appointed from Saturday [today].
‘During the first few days, we will phone to offer appointments before moving to letter appointments from the middle of next week.
‘You may not recognise the number or the number may be withheld. Check your voicemails regularly.’
Earlier in the week, NHS Grampian said the region was facing an escalating number of cases and an IMT was established. The accelerated vaccination scheme will start in Elgin following the board’s decision to go ahead with it.
Multiple outbreaks have been linked to Elgin Academy secondary school, with more than 50 positive cases among pupils.
A mobile testing unit arrived at the school yesterday.
An NHS Grampian spokesman said: ‘We will clearly be following the new Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation guidance and using alternatives to Oxford/AstraZeneca.
‘In practice, based on what is currently approved for use, that means Pfizer or Moderna.’
The Fiona Elcock Vaccination Centre, in Elgin, will have increased opening hours to between 8am and 10pm with additional vaccination channels throughout the day.
The additional activity will not affect existing appointments at the centre or the delivery of second doses and vaccination of those 4049 years across Grampian.
All those aged 40 years and over should already have an appointment or will receive one soon.
The cluster of cases comes as data shows more people are starting to return to work – despite a warning that working from home should continue where possible.
Since April 10, there have been more than 224 cases in Moray, with 91 of those since April 28.
As a result, NHS Grampian is considering rolling out doorstep testing in Elgin to locate positive cases and stop transmission.
The mobile testing unit at Elgin Academy is initially targeting pupils and teachers during school hours and will be used for the wider public during the weekend.
More than a quarter of the school’s population of about 1,000 pupils have had to self-isolate.
Jamie Hogg, NHS Grampian’s divisional clinical director at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, said: ‘We have seen 51 cases of Covid-19 in the school’s population but there is no evidence of ongoing transmission in the school and we are not treating it as a single outbreak. It is therefore likely these individuals have picked-up the virus in the community, outwith school.
‘In testing all pupils and teachers it gives us a fuller picture of who is infected in the community – we know Covid-19 is now becoming widespread across Moray.
‘It is vital we get ahead of the virus, and widespread testing is our best chance to do that. Test positivity in Moray is at 3.2 per cent – across Scotland that figure is close to just 1 per cent.
‘The R-rate in Moray is at 1.8, so every person in Moray that becomes infected is, on average, passing it on to two other people.’
Elgin Academy head teacher Kyle Scott said the school’s infection prevention control measures have worked and he was reassured by public health that there has not been spread there.
He added: ‘Despite that it is obviously circulating widely in the region’s population and that includes some of our pupils.
‘While adherence to the guidelines inside the school has been excellent, we’d encourage pupils and their families to ensure they do so outside of our facility – not gathering in large numbers, wearing masks where appropriate and socially distancing.
‘Not following the guidelines puts individuals’ fellow pupils at risk, our staff and, if the situation escalates, potentially our ability to offer education in the school setting.’
Moray Council chief executive Roddy Burns described rising case numbers as ‘concerning’.
But he added: ‘We all want to move to Level 2 of restrictions later this month, along with the rest of the country.’
Comment – Page 22
‘The decision was straightforward’