People aged 40-49 will be prioritised next for a Covid-19 vaccine, with scientific advisers saying the move will “provide the greatest benefit in the shortest time”.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) had considered whether groups such as teachers and police officers should be vaccinated next.
But it concluded that the most effective way to prevent death and hospital admission is to carry on prioritising people by age.
The Scottish Government said it would accept the JCVI advice.
Advisers said modelling studies for phase two of the vaccination programme also indicate that the speed of vaccine deployment is the most important factor in helping prevent severe illness and death.
This means that in phase two, priority will be given in the following order:
- All those aged 40-49
- All those aged 30-39
- All those aged 18-29
These groups will be vaccinated once all those in phase one (the over-50s and most vulnerable) have received a jab.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “All four UK nations will follow the recommended approach for phase two of the vaccine rollout, subject to the final advice given by the independent expert committee.
“Each government remains focused on the target to offer a first vaccination to all those in the phase one priority groups by the middle of April and the remainder of the adult population by the end of July subject to the availability of supplies.
“The vaccination programme is one of three key ways we are working to beat this virus, along with our expanded testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission and the important lockdown restrictions everyone in Scotland must follow.
“All these measures work to greatest effect when they work together.”
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for the JCVI, told a briefing that age “remains a dominant factor – it is still one of the most important causes of severe disease, even in those aged 50 years and below”.
He said that even within different occupational groups, it is older people who are more at risk than those who are younger.
In a statement, he added: “Vaccinations stop people from dying and the current strategy is to prioritise those who are more likely to have severe outcomes and die from Covid-19.
“The evidence is clear that the risk of hospitalisation and death increases with age.
“The vaccination programme is a huge success and continuing the age-based rollout will provide the greatest benefit in the shortest time, including to those in occupations at a higher risk of exposure.”