'Mixed messages' to those at risk from Covid made people feel 'unsafe'

MSPs on the coronavirus recovery committee have written to public health minister with recommendations.

‘Mixed messages’ to those at risk from Covid left people feeling ‘unsafe’, committee of MSPs hears Getty Images

A Holyrood committee has said the Government must improve its public health communications for those at the highest risk of coronavirus.

The Covid-19 Recovery committee undertook an inquiry which heard concerns over the discontinuation of the Highest Risk List, with people previously on the list said to have reportedly received “mixed messages” on whether they continue to be at risk.

They added that it meant they “did not feel safe leaving their homes”. 

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.

Committee convener, Siobhian Brown MSP 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.  

“By putting the inquiry recommendations into practice, the Scottish Government can help people prepare for winter and better prepare communication strategies for any possible future pandemics.”

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