Developing situation means we must vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible say top doctors

Members of the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties have welcomed plans to update the immunisation programme against COVID-19 to ensure that the vaccine is delivered to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. This new plan will be supported by immunising more people with a first dose of the available vaccine before returning to deliver a second top-up dose. This change is based on a review of the clinical evidence of both vaccines.

The Scottish Academy has welcomed the news that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved and would like to thank all of those involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

We are at a very worrying time in the pandemic: the novel variant of SARS-CoV-2 which has a much faster growth rate is rapidly spreading across the UK at a time when services are already stretched by winter pressures. It is imperative that the number of patients and healthcare staff vaccinated is increased as quickly as possible.

The Scottish Academy acknowledges the recent changes to the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine schedule as one mechanism of achieving this.

Commenting on this, members of the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties have said:

The Scottish Academy is delighted at the recent approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the enormous efforts which are underway to roll out the vaccination programme against COVID-19. This readiness is testament to the hard work of so many healthcare workers around the country whom we thank for their ongoing commitment to the health of our population.

It is essential that the number of people who have been vaccinated with at least one dose of either vaccine is increased as quickly as possible. The Scottish Academy supports the modelling from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which has confirmed that both vaccines provide substantial protection after a single dose. Delaying the second dose to 12 weeks will assist with the availability of the vaccines and enable more healthcare workers and those in priority groups to be vaccinated in as short a time as possible. 

This has required a change to the schedule for most of those who have received the current first dose – and the Scottish Academy recognises that this will impact upon workload for those involved in the programme. We understand that both healthcare professionals and the public may have concerns about altering the schedule but this change is based on a review of the evolving clinical evidence from both vaccines. This change will help us to have an immediate impact in our fight against COVID and is the right thing to do.

We know that many NHS staff are exhausted but are continuing to work extremely hard to keep the public safe – as they have done throughout this pandemic. Those working in general practice stand ready to vaccinate at scale. It is essential that there are systems in place to ensure administration of the second vaccine within the 12-week window.  In the meantime, as we face rapidly rising numbers of cases of the highly transmissible new variant, social distancing measures become even more important. It is essential that everyone continues to play their part in saving lives and protecting the NHS by following the public health advice to prevent the further spread of the disease.”

Notes: 

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland - known as the "Scottish Academy" - contributes to improvements in the health of the people of Scotland by the promotion and co-ordination of the work of the Medical Royal College and Faculties and giving the medical professions a collective voice on clinical and professional issues.

The main objectives of the Scottish Academy include:

  • To ensure quality of care and patient safety is maximised by maintaining and improving standards within the profession
  • To provide a co-ordinated voice from the specialties in relation to education, training, clinical standards and effectiveness and research and quality which are supported and promoted by all constituent members
  • To co-ordinate and exchange expertise across the Colleges and Faculties in all areas of training, medical education and revalidation
  • To support improved medical workforce planning in Scotland to recruit and retain the highest quality doctors.

Lisa Rooke

Contact: Lisa Rooke l.rooke@rcpe.ac.uk 0131 247 3688