Scotland is “not going fast enough” in the race to vaccinate its population against Covid-19, Jackie Baillie has said.
At First Minister’s Questions, the Scottish Labour interim leader listed a trail of broken SNP vaccination promises and raised the cases of three over-70s in Fife who have not been invited for a vaccine appointment.
After the First Minister read out a helpline number in the chamber, Margaret, one of the pensioners whose case was raised by Ms Baillie, immediately called the helpline. She was merely told: “We can confirm that a letter will be posted to you soon”.
Ms Baillie also highlighted “a huge variation across the country” in the proportion of the population receiving the vaccine.
Speaking at FMQs, Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie said: “People across Scotland expect to be treated equally, not have their chance to have a vaccine determined by where they live.
“Our vaccine rollout is much slower than England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The First Minister quite rightly says it is not a competition between nations but I have to say to her it is a race against the virus and we are not going fast enough.
“And even by the First Minister’s own promises, we are falling behind. First it was million vaccines by the end of January – but there had been less than 600,000. Then it was all adults over 18 by Spring – now they are aiming for just the over 50s by May.
“We were told that the vaccination programme was “ramping up”. But on Sunday we recorded our lowest daily rate so far.
“For the First Minster to meet her next promise of vaccinating all over 70s and the clinically vulnerable by 15 February our daily rate needs to increase immediately to at least 40,000 a day.
“So does the First Minister expect her latest target to be met or will it be her latest broken promise?”
Immediately after she raised the issue in Parliament, Ms Baillie received a large number of emails from people across Scotland who had struggled to access the vaccination programme.
Speaking after FMQs, Ms Baillie added: “From the moment I sat down after asking my questions, my phone was buzzing with emails from people across Scotland saying they tried phoning the number the First Minister read out, but it was no help at all. As these emails show, it is simply not credible for the First Minister to claim that ‘nothing is going wrong’ with the vaccine programme. The First Minister should withdraw this claim and make sure that people awaiting their vaccination are actually told what’s going on.”