McArthur secures ‘categoric assurance’ on equal access to covid vaccine

Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Thursday) received ‘categoric assurances’ from the Health Secretary that islanders will have equal access to the Covid-19 vaccine.

During a parliamentary statement on the delivery of the vaccine programme, Mr McArthur emphasised the importance of ensuring that priority groups in remote parts of Scotland are fully included in the first and subsequent waves of the roll out. 

Orkney’s MSP welcomed confirmation from the Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman that freezer storage of the Pfizer vaccine will be available in the islands and that changes to the way the vaccine can be delivered will make the roll out in island and rural areas, including to care home residents and those in their own homes, more practical.

Following the exchange, Mr McArthur commented:

“The imminent roll-out of a vaccine programme across Scotland is the early Christmas present we’ve all been waiting for after many challenging months.  Those who have worked tirelessly to make it a reality so quickly, including volunteers for the testing programme, deserve our profound gratitude.

“However, attentions must now turn to the practicalities of distributing the vaccine to all corners of the country in what will surely be one of the largest public health exercises in history.  It is vital that our islands are not left behind and that appropriate steps are taken to guarantee equal access to the vaccine.

“The Pfizer vaccine requires freezer storage and that presents practical difficulties in our island and rural communities.  I was therefore pleased that the Health Secretary was able to give me a categoric assurance that freezer storage will indeed be available in the islands and that priority groups in Orkney will form part of the initial roll out.

“Further details about how this process will work in practice, including how any subsequent vaccines might be incorporated in the programme, are obviously needed. However, I welcome this good news and encourage anyone in Orkney eligible for the vaccine to take up this opportunity.”

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