Scotland ‘ready to start vaccinations’ after COVID Pfizer jab approval
The first COVID vaccinations are expected to be administered next Tuesday, the First Minister has announced.
It follows the UK medicines regulator, the MHRA, giving the green light to the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
The decision makes the UK the first country in the world to approve the vaccine, which was 95 per cent effective in its final trials.
Staff who will be administering the vaccine are to be its first recipients, to be followed by those working in the NHS, care workers and people over 80.
Nicola Sturgeon said at her daily briefing: "If we receive the first doses of vaccine as soon as we are expecting to and there is no reason right now to doubt that, I can confirm that the first vaccines against COVID will start to be administered in Scotland on Tuesday 8 December.
"That is just six days from now. So to reiterate – the first vaccines against COVID will be administered in Scotland on Tuesday 8 December.
"It is of course worth remembering that everyone will require two doses of the vaccine, and that these are likely to be offered 21-28 days apart – so it is unlikely that anyone’s vaccination will be completed until early next year.
"But there is no doubt that being able to have this degree of confidence that we can start a vaccination programme next week is absolutely fantastic news."
However, the First Minister warned the low temperature at which the vaccine needs to be stored could make it "quite difficult to transport". She said ministers were currently considering how to ensure it reached all vulnerable groups.
Labour MP and Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray has called for a vaccines minister to be appointed to oversee the rollout. He said: "With the UK approving the vaccine ahead of other countries, the rollout here will be the first in the world. It is critical that it is done safely and as quickly as possible to help save lives.
“It will not be enough for the First Minister alone to hold daily press conferences - there must be a minister dedicated to the vaccine rollout who can ensure the delivery is quick and effective."
Other opposition parties have called for an update in Parliament to allow for scrutiny of the plan.
Health Secretary Jeane Feeman previously said around 2,000 vaccinators would work alongside the military to treat 4.4 million over 18s living in Scotland.
The aim is to have a million people in Scotland vaccinated by the end of January.
Those over the age of 65 and younger people with extra clinical risks will be prioritised in February.