A NUMBER of groups of employees, such as police, firefighters, teachers and transport workers, have been seeking higher priority in the NHS immunisation strategy for Covid-19, believing themselves to be at increased risk of catching the disease. However, based on my understanding of information on the Government's coronavirus website, by far the biggest single factor in determining whether someone who becomes ill with Covid-19 suffers the worst possible outcome – death – is their age, with death rates of those who are 90 or more years old being about 50 times higher than those in their 40s and 50s. In any case, I would have thought that those with a really significant health problem, such as (say) a policeman with a transplant or a teacher who was recovering from a blood cancer, would have already been immunised, as they would have fallen into category 4, along with the 70-79-year-olds.

However, police officers, teachers, lecturers and some transport workers generally work for large organisations, which have access to occupational health (OH) services.

For the past six years, I have been employed by a UK-wide, private sector OH provider. Our 600-plus clients include government departments, local authorities, fire and rescue services, universities, utility companies and logistical organisations. For 10 years before that, I worked for an NHS-based OH service, which in addition to looking after the health board's employees, had a substantial portfolio of clients in the private, public and voluntary sectors, as did many other NHS OH services. About 30 per cent of my consultant job plan involved working with non-NHS organisations. Our services included advice related to business travel, seasonal flu and other immunisations relevant to employment, so providing a Covid-19 immunisation service for our clients would have presented no problems, but for whatever reason, the Government decided to press ahead with a service organised by the NHS.

While the NHS service has quite correctly concentrated on protecting the most vulnerable first, if the OH services had been involved, this would have allowed a two-front approach to be adopted, with the OH services rolling up those who were less vulnerable to severe disease, but possibly constituted a higher risk because, by being out and about more in the community, could act as asymptomatic spreaders. This would allow the NHS effort to concentrate on the faster immunisation of those at highest risk, giving both doses of vaccine. In turn, this would result in more rapid containment/suppression of the virus, reducing its opportunities to mutate – a win/win situation. Since the Government has purchased sufficient supplies of vaccine to immunise the entire population of the UK four to five times over, there would be no question of competing for scare resources.

Christopher W Ide, Waterfoot.

* GORDON Cox (Letters, March 2) says: "The legal restrictions under which we are now living should be removed forthwith and replaced by guidance allowing people to use their own common sense."

Anyone else spot the literally fatal flaw in his plan? Or did the endless number of reports of police having to bust parties, raves and even funerals of up to 200 attendees escape his notice?

Never underestimate the stupidity of the general public.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone.


RARELY can the words of a gamekeeper have had more truth attached than those of Ronnie Kippen, of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association Committee ("Ban on killing mountain hares will have consequences, warms gamekeeper", The Herald, March 1); of course it will. The consequences will be that mountain hares will now live as they did for thousands of years and provide food for species like foxes, wildcat, golden eagle and other raptors.

The usual nonsense regurgitated by the blood-sports community about spreading ticks and “damage to trees” by mountain hares indicates the scant knowledge these countryside “guardians” have. There are no records of mountain hares eating “trees”. Heather is their main food and occasionally rushes. Standing on tiptoes, a mountain hare will hardly reach half a meter. They also, as the name suggests, largely inhabit mountains – usually well above the treeline.

Bernard Zonfrillo, Glasgow.


I WONDER if someone can help me understand why there seems to be a collective blindness in using plurals that do not end in a letter "s"?

Today’s article by Neil Mackay ("I no longer recognise the corrupted Yes movement", The Herald, March 2) is a case in point. Three times he used the word strata when he clearly means the singular stratum. Also he, in common with almost all others, uses media as a singular: “The media is hated.”

I am well aware that usage will always trump pedantry but I find this along with the ubiquitous use of “data” as a singular particularly puzzling. We would be unlikely to countenance a sentence like "Dogs is man’s best friend", but as above “media is hated” and “data is shared” seem quite acceptable.

As I say, more puzzled than pedantic.

Forbes M Dunlop, Glasgow.


THE well-known cosmetics company Maybelline is currently running a makeup recycling campaign with the slogan “Don’t fling it. Bring it.” You drop off your old or unwanted makeup of any brand in participating supermarkets and it gets recycled.

Of course, the makeup itself can’t be recycled. The packaging is mainly plastic with a bit of cardboard. As recyclable material this is low-value and low-volume.

How can this possibly be economically viable? Or is this perhaps only a clever marketing ploy?

Penny Ponders, Newbridge.