Scotland offers a more effective vaccination programme than the rest of the UK

Scotland took a slightly different approach to vaccinating its population against COVID-19 than the rest of the UK. The Scottish Government planned for a slower start in the vaccination programme, due to prioritising the oldest and most vulnerable individuals. This has proven effective, with deaths among care home residents falling rapidly in Scotland. Furthermore, over the past couple of weeks, with the majority of all care home residents and over 80s having been vaccinated, the speed of Scotland’s vaccination roll-out has reached new heights and is now significantly more efficient than the UK’s overall. In fact, Scotland currently leads the way in Europe (alongside Wales) administering the most daily COVID-19 vaccine doses (0.89 per 100 people on 9th February - 7 day rolling average).

A comparison of the two nations

31st February – 10th February 2021

 Over the past week, Scotland has administered more doses of the vaccine each day (per 1,000 people of population) than the UK average, and in fact, England has vaccinated notably less than the other nations.

Number of 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine daily per 1,000 individuals (31st Jan – 10th Feb 2021)

31st Jan 1st Feb 2nd Feb 3rd Feb 4th Feb 5th Feb 6th Feb 7th Feb 8th Feb 9th Feb 10th Feb
Scotland 1.76 6.38 7.04 8.25 8.82 8.04 9.67 5.04 11.2 10.5 11.56
England 5.14 4.98 5.33 6.73 6.90 7.14 8.14 4.08 4.48 5.5 6.02
UK (total) 4.78 5.24 5.61 7.02 7.19 7.40 8.23 4.18 5.28 6.17 6.75

Scotland’s approach proving effective

 Scotland is now not only vaccinating more people per day than the UK average, but the government’s decision to vaccinate the most vulnerable individuals first is proving to be a success. The latest figures from the National Records of Scotland highlight that 68 people residing in care homes in Scotland died with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in the week beginning 1st February. When compared to the week beginning 4th January, the number of deaths has declined by 40%. This suggests that in Scotland, deaths in care homes are falling 10 times faster than amongst the general population. While it is not yet clear to what extent the vaccine has contributed to this, it is likely that the prioritisation of vaccinating the elderly and most vulnerable first, will have played a key role in these promising figures.

This graph highlights the change in Scotland's vaccination programme after a majority of care home residents and staff had been vaccinated. On the 1st of February 2021, 98% of older care home residents and 88% of care home staff had been vaccinated in Scotland, as the government had planned. Therefore, with a majority of the most vulnerable members of society having been vaccinated, the focus of vaccines could shift to the wider population and be carried out at a greater speed. This is clearly demonstrated in the graph and from this point the Scotland has vaccinated more 1st doses per 1,000 people each day than the rest of the UK.


Throughout January, Scotland’s approach to rolling-out the vaccine was politicised and often criticised in the headlines. However, recent figures, showing a decline in deaths among those in care homes, have suggested that this approach may have been significantly more effective. Meanwhile, the statistics on daily doses across the UK suggest that Scotland is now leading the way and exceeding all targets set out by the Scottish Government.