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First COVID-19 vaccinations expected in December, says Jeane Freeman

Scottish Parliament TV

First COVID-19 vaccinations expected in December, says Jeane Freeman

The first vaccinations against COVID-19 are expected to take place in Scotland next month, health secretary Jeane Freeman has announced.

Those working in the NHS, care workers and people over 80 are expected to be first to receive the vaccine, with up to a million people treated by the end of January, if the health service is given safety approval.

Those over the age of 65 and younger people with extra clinical risks will be prioritised in February.

Outlining the Scottish Government’s plans for the rollout of the vaccine, Freeman said around 2,000 vaccinators would work alongside the military to treat 4.4 million over 18s living in Scotland, though ministers are still examining how the doses will be transported and stored.

Freeman described the programme as “one of the biggest civilian logistical challenges in our lifetime”, adding: “the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine is paramount to us".

Scottish Labour health and social care spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “It’s extremely encouraging to hear that the Scottish Government is committed to rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as they arrive in Scotland. 

“The workforce will be crucial to this work getting underway safely and quickly. However, lessons must be learned from the chaotic flu vaccination programme. The ambition to deliver one million vaccinations by the end of January needs to be matched by resources and investment in staff, and a clear plan on logistics.  

“The health secretary has identified that 2000 staff will be needed initially to roll out one million vaccinations by the end of January. 

“More detail needs to be provided on recruitment, training and how essential NHS services will be able to continue in parallel with the ambitious COVID-19 vaccination programme.” 

“As well as getting these crucial vaccine preparations right, the Scottish Government must urgently expand Test and Protect to help stop the spread of the virus.” 

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "A vaccine is the best means of exiting this crisis. The news from the scientists over the last couple of weeks has been a real moment of hope. 

"We've seen one of the biggest scientific efforts in history to find a vaccine. Now we're approaching one of the biggest public health exercises in history to distribute it.

"Liberal Democrats have called for a clear rollout strategy and framework for delivery, so people know how the process will work and can understand when they can expect to receive a vaccine and how. 

"The calamitous flu jab rollout is set to run to the end of this year. The national booking service will be critical to an orderly rollout of a COVID-19 vaccination, so we need more details of how this will be established urgently, because people will want this vaccine yesterday."

Read the most recent article written by Liam Kirkaldy - UK nations discuss COVID-19 restrictions over Christmas

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