Deliveries of the first coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to Scotland are expected to be made early next week with injections being given from Tuesday 8 December.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has confirmed that the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been authorised for use in the UK.
The vaccine, which must be stored at well below freezing, will be transported to 23 locations around the country in temperature controlled lorries.
Everyone being vaccinated will need two vaccines, between 21 and 28 days apart.
Those giving the vaccination to others will receive the injection first. The programme will then follow the independent advice received from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which recommends prioritising those with the greatest clinical need – including those aged over 80, and health and social care workers. The storage requirements mean logistics around delivery to care homes are more challenging and they are currently under consideration.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:
“Today’s announcement confirming that a safe and effective vaccine can now be used is the best news than any of us have heard about the virus since the pandemic began.
“As long as we receive the first doses of vaccine when we expect to, we will begin vaccinating from Tuesday next week.
“It is of course worth remembering that everyone will require two vaccines, with the second vaccine between 21 and 28 days after the first, so even for those who are among the first, there will be very few completed until early next year.
“We intend to vaccinate the vaccinators first, followed by the priority groups recommended by the JCVI, however we also need to take account of the conditions attached to the authorisation to supply the vaccine which will present challenges around transporting the vaccine to care homes and individual homes.
“We are therefore in the process of working through how we can ensure people in priority groups in those settings can be vaccinated.
“For all the difficulties that lie ahead, it should give us all real hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight.”