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Stone told people in far north will not have to travel for vaccine


By Gordon Calder

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PEOPLE in the far north should not have to travel to get the coronavirus vaccine, UK health secretary Matt Hancock has said.

He told Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP Jamie Stone the vaccine will be distributed effectively in the area. The government has a co-ordinated vaccination roll-out plan, said Mr Hancock. who explained that the Department of Health and Social Care will work with NHS Scotland to ensure vulnerable people do not have to travel to get the jab.

North MP Jamie Stone welcomed the UK health secretary's announcement.Picture: DGS
North MP Jamie Stone welcomed the UK health secretary's announcement.Picture: DGS

He told the Liberal Democrat MP: "It’s a critical principle that it should be deployed according to clinical need not according to where you live across the United Kingdom."

Mr Stone said: "I have a duty to ensure that the specific needs of my constituency are acknowledged by the Westminster and Edinburgh governments. It's reassuring to know that the UK government has plans to distribute any vaccines according to medical need, but the logistics of this must be planned well in advance and take note of different needs across the country.

"If we are serious about getting the vaccine to the most vulnerable first then the Scottish and UK governments must ensure that people in the far north will not have to travel for hours just to access this urgent health care.

"I will do everything in my power to ensure that the vaccine does not fall victim to yet another postcode lottery. I continue to demand that both governments co-operate. People, not politics, must come first."

Vaccines – developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech as well as one by US company Moderna– could prevent over 90 per cent of people from getting Covid-19. The vaccines are among 11 in the final stages of testing.

It is hoped the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine could be in use by the end of November with a limited number of people receiving it this year, although it is likely to be next year before it would be widely used.

Mr Stone wants to ensure the government has a strategy that prioritises the most vulnerable and pointed out his constituency has many elderly people.

The announcement about the vaccines has also been welcomed by Caithness Health Action Team chairman, Bill Fernie, who said it was "good news".



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