While the New Year has brought new lockdown restrictions, the rollout of the vaccine offers everyone genuine hope and a route out of this pandemic.
The UK has put itself in a great position to turn the tide against the pandemic by authorising three highly effective vaccines and opening up over 1,000 live vaccination sites across the country.
Unfortunately, the new Covid variant can spread at a far quicker rate, so it is absolutely essential that the vaccination programme is accelerated too.
We are now in a race against the spread of the virus - a race which is more like a long-distance sprint than a marathon. The quicker we can rollout the vaccine, the faster we can return to a sense of normality
I was therefore astounded to discover that the SNP Government hadn’t already taken up the MOD’s offer of assistance for rolling out Covid-19 vaccines.
Last week the UK Secretary of State for Defence confirmed that quick reaction vaccine teams stand at the ready to help in Scotland but, at the time of writing, the SNP Government still haven’t put in a request for this assistance. The question is, why not?
Only thirty-two armed services personnel are helping with the logistics currently. However, there are thousands of soldiers stationed in Scotland who could be deployed if only the SNP Government made that request.
Our armed services personnel can play a vital role in logistics by setting up vaccination centres and can therefore take the pressure off of our NHS so that they can administer the jabs.
The army played a key role in operating Covid-19 testing centres at the start of the pandemic and we should call on them again to help with the vaccination rollout.
The SNP Government should accept all the help on offer to accelerate the delivery of the vaccine.
We also need to ensure that patients awaiting transplants are prioritised for the vaccine too.
I believe an organ donation is the greatest gift one can give and receive. Patients waiting on the transplant list should be given the best chance of being Covid-free so that they do not miss the opportunity of an operation.
I raised this issue recently with the First Minister and she has agreed to follow this matter up with the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation.
I would certainly be happy to wait slightly longer for my vaccine if it meant that a transplant patient did not miss out on an organ donation.
These remain hugely challenging times for families and businesses across the Highlands. I’m always here to help, so please contact my Office if you require my assistance.
**Originally published in The Inverness Courier on 22 January 2021.