GP SURGERIES in East Lothian are rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine to the over-80s, in a huge step forward in the fight against coronavirus.

NHS Lothian said that practices across the county would start receiving deliveries of the vaccine from Monday and people would be contacted directly by their surgeries to arrange appointments.

The announcement came as East Lothian and the rest of mainland Scotland were placed into lockdown on Tuesday until at least the end of the month as cases of the virus soared nationwide, driven by a new, more transmissible strain.

More than 1,600 vaccinations were carried out last month in East Lothian, with 1,465 given to health and care workers via NHS staff clinics in the county, and 168 care home residents and staff, who were not seen at the clinics, receiving the first jab.

NHS Lothian said that more health and care workers in East Lothian would also have received the vaccination at centres outwith the county.

Now, the programme will turn its focus to priority groups, with residents aged over 80 the first to receive the jabs through their doctors’ surgeries.

David Small, Covid vaccination project lead in NHS Lothian, appealed to people to be patient as the vaccine becomes available to the public.

He said: “Since December 8, when the first Covid vaccination became available, we have delivered over 20,000 vaccinations across Lothian.

“This is a fantastic achievement and is thanks to the hard work and dedication of many people.

“We are not, however, resting and work has continued at pace to ensure that we can continue this momentum.

“From Monday, GP surgeries in East Lothian will start to receive vaccine deliveries in order to vaccinate those aged over 80. GP surgeries will contact these patients directly to arrange appointments.

“The Covid vaccination is key in helping us return to normal life and we recognise the level of anticipation that is currently being felt by all.

“I would like to reassure the public that we are working tirelessly to make sure that we can deliver the vaccine to each of the relevant groups when they are due to receive it.

“This will not happen overnight, which is why we urge the public to please be patient with this process.

“However, the message is clear: you will receive your vaccination, but this has to be done in a systematic way, ensuring those who are most vulnerable are prioritised.”

The Scottish Government is following the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) UK Government body advice on priority groups to receive the vaccine first.

The advice prioritises:

  1. Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers;
  2. Over-80s and frontline health and social care workers;
  3. Over-75s;
  4. Over-70s and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals;
  5. Over-65s;
  6. All individuals aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality;
  7. Over-60s;
  8. Over-55s;
  9. Over-50s.

Queen Margaret University in Musselburgh was named last month as one of three Lothian venues chosen as mass vaccination centres when the next stage of inoculation begins next month.

The next phase, known as Wave 2, will see those in priority 3 to 7, as listed above, vaccinated.

The Scottish Government said this week it anticipated all people over 50 would be vaccinated by early May.

Kenny MacAskill, East Lothian MP, urged people to remain patient.

He said: “It’s welcome news.

“I appreciate the anxiety of many but it’s complicated with supply and resource.

“We just need to be patient but those in charge need to do everything they can to accelerate it. There’s also a need for the groups and individuals with pressing circumstances to apply for early vaccination. But it’s coming and that’s a good start.”