Covid-19: appointments to have jabs brought forward for at-risk groups

The move comes as a new variant has been found in the UK (Photo: Getty Images)
The move comes as a new variant has been found in the UK (Photo: Getty Images)

Scotland's winter vaccination programme has begun as appointments are being made for those most at risk of becoming ill from flu and Covid-19.

Invitations to book or attend an appointment for the jabs have already been sent to those eligible, which include care home residents, anyone aged over 75, and those with a weakened immune system.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) has reported 1,342 COVID cases in Scotland in the week ending 27 August.

Dr Nick Phin, director of public health science at PHS, said: "We are continuing to monitor the emergence and prevalence of COVID-19 variants in Scotland through our surveillance programme.

"While we are not concerned about the current levels of COVID-19, the identification of BA.2.86 in Scotland means that we are now working with health boards to ensure those most vulnerable to illness are protected this winter.

"Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from serious illness and those eligible are encouraged to book or attend their appointment when invited to do so.

"Coming forward when called will also help to alleviate pressures on local health boards who are working to deliver the winter vaccination programme at pace."

The move comes just days after a new variant of Covid-19 was confirmed in Scotland. The strain has already been found in several countries including Canada, Israel and the US.

BA.2.86, also known as Pirola, is being closely monitored by the World Health Organization (WHO). The new variant was also found in wastewater testing in another NHS health board area.

PHS says the accuracy of wastewater testing is variable and results should be treated with caution.

The number of Covid cases in Scotland has been increasing since the beginning of July.

Testing for the virus has been scaled back across the globe and scientists say they do not have clear information about how rapidly it is spreading.

Symptoms of this variant include a runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing and a sore throat.