More than half of young teenagers vaccinated in East Dunbartonshire

More than half of 12 to 15-year-olds have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in East Dunbartonshire, figures show.

More than half of 12 to 15-year-olds have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in East Dunbartonshire, figures show.

Figures from the UK's daily covid dashboard show 2,705 young teenagers had received a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by October 17 – around 53.7% of the age group, based on mid-2020 population estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

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Of them, 0.2% had received both jabs.

Across Scotland, 47.4% of 12 to 15-year-olds had received their first jab by October 17 – compared to just 15.0% across England.

The national rate varies between 63.0% in Dumfries and Galloway, and 17.1% in Highland.

Colin Angus, senior research fellow at the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield, said the difference in uptake across the two nations was down to the way the vaccines were being rolled out to youngsters in the age group.

In Scotland, vaccines are being delivered in the way they are for adults – while in England they were being managed in schools.

However, Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Tuesday (October 19) that 12 to 15-year-olds in England would also be able to arrange a Covid vaccine through the national booking service.

Mr Angus said: "While hospitalisation and even death from Covid in young people is thankfully very rare, increased vaccine uptake should help to reduce transmission rates in these age groups, bringing overall case numbers down and reducing the risk of infection being passed on to older, more vulnerable groups."

A first dose of vaccine cannot be delivered to someone if they are within four weeks of testing positive for Covid-19, waiting for the results of a coronavirus test, or self-isolating.

Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds makes them less likely to miss school, or contribute to the spread of infection in the wider community.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Professor Woolhouse added: "The importance of this is not fully clear – though this age group can and do pass infection on they are much less likely to do so than an adult.

"However, because most adults have now been vaccinated, and one of the effects of the vaccine is to make them less infectious, unvaccinated children are now making a proportionally bigger contribution to overall spread than at any previous stage of the pandemic."

Though the top priority should be improving vaccine coverage among the elderly and vulnerable, he said.

Meanwhile, 74.0% of 16 to 17-year-olds across Scotland were vaccinated by October 17 – up from 73.1% a week before.

In East Dunbartonshire, 80.3% of older teenagers were – up from 79.1% on October 10.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland continues to make excellent progress in the vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds, and we are delighted that so many young people have taken up the offer of vaccination.

“Drop-in clinics for this cohort have been available since September 20 in mainland Health Boards, and vaccination appointment letters are now being sent out to 12 to 15-year-olds in Scotland."