GPs could start vaccinating people over 80 from January 11 if the Oxford vaccine is approved by the end of the year, the health secretary has said.
Jeane Freeman said the vaccine, developed with AstraZeneca, could be used in a far wider range of settings than the Pfizer jab which started to be rolled out in Scotland on December 8.
By December 20, a total of 56,676 people had received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, including care home residents and staff and patient-facing NHS staff.
In a statement at the Scottish Parliament, Freeman said that pending supply and delivery, officials expect to complete the second dose of vaccinations for this group next month.
The health secretary also said if the Oxford vaccine is approved it will make it easier to vaccinate people in a wider range of settings.
She said: “Right now we have access to just one vaccine, in the near future we hope that it will be two.
“The new AstraZeneca vaccination, should it get Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approval, does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures and is easier to transport. That means that we we will be able to deploy it in far wider settings than has been the case for Pfizer.
“Dependent on Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice, we will likely use it to prioritise vaccination of the over-80s who are not care home residents and for this group to be largely vaccinated in GP settings.
“Should the AstraZeneca vaccine be approved before the end of this calendar year then we anticipate that we will be able to commence vaccination from primary care locations from Monday January 11.”
The Health Secretary said Scotland anticipates receiving 172,575 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of the week, 50% of which will be retained to ensure that those already vaccinated can be given the second dose after the 21 days required.
She said that vaccine supplies permitting the aim is to have all those on the JCVI prioritisation list vaccinated in the spring and dependent on supplies they will then move on to the rest of the population.
She also said there is “no evidence at this point” to suggest the current vaccinations will not be effective against the new strain of coronavirus that has been identified.