Covid vaccine can be taken into Scottish care homes

The “first wave” of Scottish adults in line to receive the coronavirus vaccine should get the double jab by next spring, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said.

And she confirmed it will be possible to take the vaccine into care homes to inoculate vulnerable residents amid previous concerns the low temperatures it must be stored at could prevent this.

Ms Freeman was told today after talks involving Scotland’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, the vaccine could be moved more easily than first thought.

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“We now have confirmation on the basis of the stability data that the Pfizer vaccine can be transported in an unfrozen state for up to 12 hours and can be stored undiluted for up to five days,” she told MSPs.

Jean Freeman said vaccine can be taken into care homes

"I’m also pleased to confirm that under certain conditions we can pack down to smaller pack sizes, both of which makes this vaccine more usable with minimum waste for care home residents and for our older citizens.

"So in effect we can take the vaccine to them or close to them and we will begin that exercise from the 14th of December.”

When the first batches of the vaccine arrive next week, they will be stored in the 23 commercial freezers around the country to keep at the -70C required.

Ms Freeman said “on the basis that we receive the vaccine supply we expect when expected, we should be able to vaccinate the first phase by spring of next year”.

The first wave of adults are those delivering the vaccination programme, frontline health and social care staff, care home residents, over-80s, and carers and personal assistants.

About 65,000 doses of the vaccine will arrive in Scotland by Tuesday.

About 2,000 vaccination staff will be needed by the end of January to dispense the double jab, three weeks apart, across the country. An existing core of staff from the flu programme will switch over the to the Covid vaccine in the first instance, Ms Freeman said.

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Staff are currently being recruited from emergency registers and from the NHS recruitment portal, as well as drawing from the wider workforce of GPs, pharmacists, dentists and optometrists.

About 160 vaccinators will be in place by Tuesday to start the programme, Ms Freeman told MSPs.

Pregnant women, or women who were planning to be pregnant in the next three months, should not take the Pfizer vaccine.

And she confirmed 16 and 17-year-olds with underlying health conditions would be vaccinated, following a request from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Half of the initial supplies of the vaccine that arrive in Scotland in December will be held back for the second dose.

The introduction of mass vaccination centres was "further down the line", Ms Freeman told MSPs

Everyone in Scotland over the age of 18 will be offered a vaccination.

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The UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has drawn up advice on how people should be prioritised.

The location where the vaccines will be stored in Scotland is not being disclosed on the grounds of security, MSPs heard.

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