Highland politician in plea for transplant patients to be given vaccine priority
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North politician Edward Mountain has welcomed Nicola Sturgeon's response to his plea for transplant patients to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine.
The Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP highlighted the issue during constituency questions with the First Minister, and asked her to raise it with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which advises the UK health departments.
Ms Sturgeon said that she would expect transplant patients to be prioritised by the JCVI and that Scotland's health secretary Jeane Freeman would investigate the matter.
“I know a lot of joint work has gone into identifying the priority for vaccine delivery," Mr Mountain told Ms Sturgeon. "Organ donation which leads to a transplant is one of the greatest gifts that can be given, and indeed received.
“I have had constituents contact me who are currently on the transplant list but aren’t prioritised for receipt of the Covid vaccine. I believe there is medical and public support for ensuring those awaiting a transplant are given the best chance of being Covid-free when they are eventually called in.
“Will you ask your advisers to urgently raise with the JCVI whether transplant patients should be prioritised for the Covid vaccine?”
Ms Sturgeon replied: “I certainly will consider this properly and if that requires us to engage more with the JCVI we will certainly do that.”
She added: “Firstly, I completely agree with the importance of promoting organ donation – it is the greatest gift that anyone can give, and when I was health secretary I spent a lot of time working with clinicians and others to raise awareness of and increase the rates of organ donation.
"I know it’s something that all health secretaries who have come after me have taken very seriously as well.
“The second point, though, is more pertinent to the specifics of the question. What are called the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ are a priority in the first JCVI list – I think it is priority four.
"I, as a non-clinician, would expect that many, if not all, transplant patients would be included within that... I will discuss with advisers and whether we need to address that point in any other way. I’ll ask the health secretary to write to the member once we’ve had an opportunity to consider it.”
Speaking later, Mr Mountain said: “I welcome that the First Minister will consider this issue and I look forward to receiving an answer from the health secretary.
“I would be happy to wait slightly longer for my vaccine if it meant that a transplant patient did not miss out on an organ donation and I have written to the cabinet secretary on these terms.”