Coronavirus in Scotland: One million Scots to be vaccinated by January, Jeane Freeman says

One million Scots will be given a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of January, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said.

She added that everyone in Scotland over the age of 18 will be offered a vaccine by Spring 2021.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Ms Freeman outlined the expected process for vaccine delivery in Scotland.

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The vaccination campaign will begin with a delivery of 320 doses in the first week of December.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

In the first wave from December to February, the highest priority groups will be targeted.

This includes frontline health and social care workers, care home staff, unpaid carers and personal assistants, those 80 and over and those delivering the vaccine programme.

The programme will then move to those over 65 and those under 65 with an additional clinical risk, and then to the rest of the population.

Delivery will be led by NHS health boards, who will identify suitable locations – both for mass vaccination and local clinics – recruit staff, and manage clinics.

Registered clinicians will carry out the vaccinations, and Ms Freeman said the Scottish Government has reached an agreement with the British Medical Association for GPs to be involved as well, as well as pharmacists, dentists and optometrists.

Everyone set to receive a vaccine will be given information in letters to be sent out in the coming weeks and months.

Those in the first wave will be contacted in December and January.

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Ms Freeman said 2000 support and delivery staff would be needed by the end of January, in order to vaccinate one million people by that time – subject to vaccine availability and delivery schedules.

"This is to be one of the biggest civilian logistical challenges in our lifetime,” said Ms Freeman, adding that the military would be brought in to support vaccine delivery.

"I'm grateful that the military has responded once again and stand ready to bolster our planning, bringing with them a wealth of logistical and operational expertise,” she said.

Ms Freeman underlined the “rigorous” testing process each vaccine goes through before being approved for safety, and stressed that she does not yet know exactly when vaccine doses will be available.

"We know that the first vaccines will require two doses three to four weeks apart,” she said.

"It’s possible that further booster doses and even an annual programme might be required, given we do not know how long protection will last.

"The important thing is that when we deliver these vaccines, it will be on the basis that they offer some form of protection, even if we don't know exactly how much protection that is. And it will be safe, so when we get in touch with you please go for the vaccine. It offers you a level of protection we don’t have through any other means.”

The UK has bought supplies of seven Covid-19 vaccine candidates, including 40 million doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and five million from Moderna, both of which vaccines have recently shown above 90 per cent efficacy levels in phase three trials.

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