'Mixed messages' for those most at risk of Covid

time:2023-06-09 05:47:04source:NBC News author:Press center2

People who are the most vulnerable to Covid are getting "mixed messages" on whether they continue to be at risk, MSPs have claimed.

The Covid-19 Recovery Committee has called on the Scottish government to improve its public health messaging to people with compromised immunity.

The committee's report said some high risk people had not been prioritised for vaccines and treatments.

The Scottish government said ending the highest risk list had clinical support.

The highest risk list, formerly known as the shielding list, was ended on 31 May as a result of the vaccination programme and the introduction of new treatments for Covid.

Scotland's chief medical officer, Sir Gregor Smith, wrote to everyone affected to explain why and said the list could "rapidly" be regenerated if needed.

But committee convener SNP MSP Siobhian Brown said: "Many individuals at highest risk in Scotland felt let down by the Scottish government's Covid-19 public health communications, confused and unsure about where to find reliable information.

"It was deeply concerning to hear that many of those who were at the highest clinical risk, as well as unpaid carers, viewed public health messaging as mixed or unclear and felt that their concerns were not being addressed.

"The Scottish government must continue to learn from the lived experience of individuals and communities during the earlier stages of the pandemic and adapt public health messaging during the recovery phase to make sure that no-one is left behind."

MSPs on the committee have written to Public Health Minister Maree Todd with a number of recommendations.

The letter said: "The committee heard concerns about the discontinuation of the highest risk list with those on the list reportedly receiving mixed messages about whether they were at risk or not.

"The committee heard that many had not been prioritised for vaccination, and were not eligible for new treatments, despite evidence showing they still had elevated risks."

The committee's inquiry also voiced concern about the low uptake of the vaccine in Polish and Gypsy/Traveller communities.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "We have for some time now been asking people who were previously on the highest risk list to follow the same advice as the rest of the population unless advised otherwise by their own GP or specialist clinician.

"The end of Scotland's highest risk list on 31 May came after publication of a clinical review of the scientific evidence that has emerged over the last two years in relation to each of the groups originally considered to be at highest risk from Covid-19."

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