By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today said that “an autumn of chaos” is behind Scottish Government plans to cancel the flu vaccinations program for certain groups.
The Scottish Health Secretary confirmed in an answer to parliament this afternoon that groups in Phase 3 (55-59 years) of the season flu vaccination programme will not be invited for vaccination.
Mr Cole-Hamilton, left, said: “The Health Secretary has now confirmed that the flu jab roll-out now won’t be completed and resources moved elsewhere.
“While it is good news that the flu is at much lower levels than normal winters, we are only in this situation because patients previously had to deal with an autumn of chaos as the first jabs were rolled out. Without these errors, more people would have had this added layer of protection.
“At this point in the process, the Scottish Government are right to put every available resource towards getting covid jabs into arms, but they should also not pretend that their failure to complete the flu rol-out is because of anything other than the disorder last year.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is calling on the Scottish Government to keep their promise to test for Covid 19 all care at home workers months after they made the initial pledge.
At least one care at home worker, Catherine Sweeney, pictured right, from Silverton, Dumbarton, died after being infected right at the beginning of the pandemic.
She was employed by West Dunbartonshire Council and was a member of the GMB trade union whose members paid tribute to her with a memorial service in Levengrove Park.
Mr Rennie said the Scottish Government made a commitment in October that all care at home workers would be tested frequently to make their work safer and to prevent spreading the virus as they moved between homes.
However, more than three months later, this promise has not been met by the Scottish Government.
Mr Rennie said: “Many vulnerable people who require care services in their own home are exasperated that the testing for care at home workers is still not in place.
“The Scottish Government promise was made in October that all care at home workers would be tested frequently to make sure they were not spreading the virus from home to home.
“Yet three months later and it is still not happening for so many care at home workers.
“As the virus rages in our communities this is incredibly reckless and must change.
“The Scottish Government has the capacity with tens of thousands of PCR test unused every day.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has called on the Scottish Government to ensure asymptomatic testing is available for all teachers ahead of the planned return on February 22nd.
During a session of the Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee, Ms Wishart, pictured left, asked the Education Secretary John Swinney whether asymptomatic testing would be available in the run up to the 22ndof February, “to avoid the returning of those who have the virus but don’t know it”.
In response, the Cabinet Secretary for Education said that the Scottish Government would do their “level best”, but could not offer any certainty.
Commenting after the Committee session, Ms Wishart said: “The First Minister has made big promises around twice weekly testing. Now her government have to deliver and ensure that teachers have a right to be tested before schools return. We have seen more than a million tests go unused since Christmas so there can be no excuses for not getting this done.
“That’s the way to avoid people turning up on day one who have the virus but don’t know it. Negative tests could provide an important layer of reassurance. We should start as we mean to go on.
“The Education Secretary must give teachers reassurances about when this system will be up and running.”