COVID-19 Information Site


We understand this is a worrying time and you may have questions, need advice or are looking for ways to help within your local community.

This website provides the most up-to-date information and links, so you can always be assured that the information you are receiving is accurate, appropriate and credible.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Shetland is well underway, and we have already offered a first dose to:

  • those aged 80 and over
  • NHS frontline staff
  • staff and residents in care homes for older adults
  • social care staff
  • a high proportion of those aged 60 and over
  • a high proportion of those who are shielding or have other risk conditions

We have just started offering the second dose to those who had a first dose in December. Most people will get their second dose between 8 and 12 weeks after the first.

​We continue to work through the priority groups across Shetland as quickly as we can but the speed is completely dependent on the amount of vaccine we get supplied with.

Prioritisation is guided by the expert independent Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI), to make sure those most at risk and the people who look after them, are vaccinated first.

You will be contacted by telephone not letter

Some Health Boards are currently using a national letter system to invite eligible people for appointments for their COVID vaccination.

NHS Shetland is not currently using this system.

Please note that, at the current time, we will not be issuing letters to invite you for appointments UNLESS we have been unable to contact you by phone after several attempts.

Those eligible will receive a telephone call from NHS Shetland staff, inviting them for an appointment. Please note this may be from a withheld number or a non-Shetland number.

Current stage of the vaccination programme

Figures published today show we have vaccinated 12,205 people in Shetland, which is approximately 65.2% of the adult population. Of these, 2684 people have received a second dose approx. 14.3% of the population (the Scottish coverage figures are 54.2% and 7.8%). These are excellent figures and it is great that about 2/3 of the adult population have had their first vaccination, and a large proportion of the most vulnerable people in the community have had their second dose. However the supply of vaccine continues to be quite slow and we are concentrating on delivering second doses to people who are now due to have them.

But we are also still vaccinating people who need their first dose. We have tried to contact all those people in Shetland who have been identified as being in priority groups 1-9, and we have vaccinated the majority. There are still a small number who were missed off the lists, or who have taken a bit longer to contact and we are inviting them into clinics next week. We are also inviting people aged 45-50, so we are slightly ahead of the national programme which has not yet moved to under 50s. For the 45-50 age group please look out for a withheld / unknown  number phone call.

The delivery of our local programme is changing with the move the under 50 age group. We are now inviting people from all the Board run practices -including the island practices  and the Levenwick GP practice to attend one of the Lerwick clinics. This is because the ‘mass vaccination clinics’ are the most efficient and quickest way to vaccinate the younger general population. We are really keen to make the best use of our staff and the vaccine supply (which continues to be uncertain) to get these younger age groups vaccinated as quickly as we can.  Because we are scheduling appointments by phone we can make sure that those who have to use public transport, especially those coming from the islands by ferry, have an appointment at a suitable date and time to fit in with timetables. Ferry and bus fares in Shetland are free of charge for people coming to a vaccination clinic.    

Alternative arrangements will be made for individuals who are unable to  travel to Lerwick from Yell, Unst and Whalsay . This will only be by exception and we strongly encourage anyone who can get to Lerwick to take the appointment  offered, as this will make the programme delivery much quicker for everyone. At present we are calling those aged 45-50 who have not yet been vaccinated and we will move to the next age group as soon as we have sufficient vaccine to do that.

(Patients registered with the Hillswick practice will continue to be called to the practice, as this is an independent practice and has the capacity to continue delivering the programme).

If you have not yet had your vaccination, please read the information on NHS Inform. A leaflet was sent out to households at the end of 2020 , but all the information is on line and in different formats. (scroll down for the leaflets)

Please also note that we are unable to issue any certification or confirmation on request to show that someone has had the vaccine. Please do not ask your GP practice to provide this. The Government is currently looking at a national process for vaccination certification / ‘passports’. This will be the process for providing proof of vaccination if it is required for travel abroad or any other purpose.

The key messages are

  • If you have not yet been vaccinated, please read the information leaflets on NHS Inform
  • Patients from the islands practices aged under 50 who have not yet had first vaccine will be invited to Lerwick clinics
  • Bus and ferry fares for travel to attend vaccination  appointments are free
  • We are currently people aged 45-50 for their first dose – please look out for a withheld / unknown phone number
  • We are currently calling people who had their first dose about 10-12 weeks ago for the second dose - please look out for a withheld / unknown phone number

An information leaflet on the vaccine has been delivered to all household across Scotland. The leaflet is available on-line and in a number of formats and languages at:

There is lots more information on the NHS Inform Covid Vaccination webpage:

You can also phone the National Covid Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (Available 8am - 8pm 7 days a week) to ask questions about the vaccine. Please note the helpline cannot answer questions about appointments.

We would encourage everyone eligible to consider taking the COVID vaccine, which is our best chance of bringing the current pandemic to an end.

Make sure your contact details are up-to-date with your GP 

To ensure that we are able to contact you when it is time to call you for a vaccination appointment, can we ask that you ensure that your contact details are correct and up to date with the GP Practice.

If you are concerned that your/a friend or relative’s details are incorrect, please contact the GP practice so they can be updated, and phone line on 01595 743319 if you think an appointment has been missed.

Unpaid carers

Unpaid carers are one of the priority groups that will be invited by NHS Shetland for appointments for the COVID vaccine.

To ensure that all unpaid carers across Shetland are invited to attend appointments, NHS Shetland is appealing to all unpaid carers to register with their GP, as soon as possible, as unpaid carers.

Unpaid carers include those who are ‘in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill’.

If you are an unpaid carer and have not yet registered as an unpaid carer with your GP, please do so as soon as possible so that you are invited for a vaccination appointment over the coming weeks. You can contact your GP by email or phone to register as an unpaid carer.

Vaccination Cancellation/Appointment Line

We have an appointment line available for anyone who has been asked to contact us directly for an appointment and for anyone who needs to cancel or reschedule an appointment:

01595 743319

Please DO NOT contact your GP or Gilbert Bain Hospital or NHS Shetland at Montfield or Public Health to try and book or rearrange an appointment. (Unless your appointment was at a local GP practice - Hillswick, Unst, Yell or Whalsay in which case please phone the practice directly. Please do not phone any other practice).

Importance of continued compliance with safety measures

Even if you have been vaccinated, it is absolutely vital that you continue to follow all the current safety measures, including FACTS, respiratory and hand hygiene, and national Protection Level requirements (e.g. Shetland is still in Level 3)


  • Face masks/coverings
  • Avoid Crowded places
  • Clean your hands and hard surfaces regularly
  • Two metre distance from others
  • Self isolate immediately and book a test if you develop symptoms.

Having the vaccine does not mean that these measures are no longer necessary. It is important for the safety of our communities that you continue to observe the measures in place.

What you need to know if you have an appointment

We have developed a Vaccination Checklist for anyone who has an appointment. Please ensure you read the Checklist before attending.

Of particular importance, we must point out that we will require you to wear a mask at your appointment, unless you are medically exempt. This is to protect you, our staff and others.

Anyone medically exempt from wearing a mask must present a Scottish Government Exemption Card – other forms of exemption card will not be accepted.

Those eligible for an exemption card can obtain the card by visiting or via the free helpline at 0800 121 6240.

Transport to appointments

Anyone attending appointments for Covid-19 vaccination will be able to travel free on public buses and inter-island ferries. Free travel will also be extended to any accompanying escorts, and travel on inter-island ferries will also include free passage for any cars.

Travellers should state their journey purpose to the bus driver or ferry crew when boarding the bus or ferry.  On inter-island ferries, ferry crew will record passengers names but this will not be necessary on buses.

If taking a car, travellers should book ferries in advance where possible. If an appointment is at short notice and booking can’t be made by the normal deadlines then travel will not be denied if space is available on the ferry.

A free return shuttle bus will operate from the Viking Bus Station to Independent Living Centre - vaccination clinic on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Please click on the link below to access the timetable. Passengers on these shuttle bus will need to wear a face covering and use socially distanced seating.  The bus will be cleaned between journeys.

Link to free return shuttle bus timetable

These arrangements will continue as long as the vaccination programme is in place, subject to any changes that may be required. Please check back here for any updates.

Priority Groups for vaccination

The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations advises that the first priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of mortality and the maintenance of the health and social care systems.

As the risk of mortality from COVID-19 increases with age, prioritisation is primarily based on age.

Please be patient as we work through these priority groups. This is a significant vaccination programme, the largest ever seen by the NHS, and involves very high numbers of people in Shetland. You will be contacted by us if you are eligible, when clinics for your eligibility group are scheduled.

1. Residents and workers in care homes for older people.

2. All those 80 years of age and over.
2. Patient facing, frontline healthcare workers.
2. Non-clinical but patient facing staff in secondary or primary care/community healthcare settings.
2. Laboratory and pathology staff.
2. Social care staff directly involved in the care of their service users and others involved directly in delivering social care such that they and vulnerable patients/clients are at increased risk of exposure.

3. All those 75 years of age and over.

4. All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

5. All those 65 years of age and over.

6. All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.
6. Unpaid carers, including all adult carers and young carers aged 16 to 18.

7. All those 60 years of age and over.

8. All those 55 years of age and over.

9. All those 50 years of age and over.

Second dose of vaccine  

As many members of the public will probably be aware, following a review of the clinical evidence in relation to both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines, the JCVI has recommended that first doses of vaccine are prioritised for as many people as possible on the Phase 1 JCVI priority list, in advance of second doses, to provide longer term protection.

A letter from Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer to Health Boards stated that this reflects the need to reach as many people in the shortest possible timeframe, within the available vaccine supplies, against a background of immediate disease activity.

We are therefore scheduling second vaccine doses between 8 and 12 weeks after the first dose for most people.

Further evidence on the rationale behind this decision is now available at

Further information

A range of information leaflets on the vaccine has been produced by NHS Information which explain why the coronavirus vaccine is being offered and how, when and where it will be given. To view these please click here.

Important facts about the vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine does not cause COVID-19. It helps to build up your immunity to the virus, so your body will fight it off more easily if it affects you. This can reduce your risk of developing COVID-19 or, if you do get COVID-19, it can make the symptoms milder. The vaccine is also suitable for people with disorders of the immune system. The effectiveness and immune response of the vaccine is being monitored as the vaccine is rolled out.

The vaccine will be given as an injection in the upper arm. During vaccination, strict infection prevention and control measures will be in place. It will only take a few minutes to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Everyone being vaccinated will need two doses up to 12 weeks apart.

Information on the vaccine will be provided to those invited for appointments.

If you have an enquiry related to COVID-19 vaccinations, please visit or call the Scottish COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (available 8am–8pm 7 days a week).

Vaccine alternative languages/formats

Information on the COVID-19 vaccination is also available in the following alternative languages/formats:

Updated/Published: 10/03/2021