Coronavirus vaccinations in Scotland will start as soon as supplies arrive, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, paving the way for it to start being administered.
The jab has been shown in studies to be 95% effective and works in all age groups.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, with about 10 million doses expected to be available for use in the UK shortly for priority groups, including healthcare workers.
Around 800,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to be available in the UK next week, with Scotland getting a population share.
Sturgeon said the vaccine’s approval was “the best news in a long time” and said the Scottish Government was “ready to start vaccinations as soon as supplies arrive”.
Care home residents and staff and health workers will be among the first to receive the vaccine, followed by over 65s and the most vulnerable people.
The Scottish Conservatives called for an urgent parliamentary statement on plans to roll out the vaccine.
Shadow health spokesman Donald Cameron said: “There is no room for error in the delivery of this potentially game-changing vaccine that could allow us to get back to some degree of normality sooner than expected.”
Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said the approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was “wonderful news”.
He said on Twitter that it is just the first of several vaccines in the pipeline, and its approval “begins to change everything for our future”.
National clinical director Professor Jason Leitch tweeted that “science, collaboration and logistics has got us to this day”.
He added: “It’s a very important moment. There will be months of roll out until normality but it’s a crucial step. Thanks to all.”
Approval of the vaccine comes nine months after coronavirus arrived in Scotland, forcing the country into lockdown and leading to restrictions being imposed on people’s lives and businesses to help control the spread.
Public health expert Professor Linda Bauld said she is “delighted” but warned of a “major logistical exercise” to roll out the vaccine.
Prof Bauld told BBC Radio Scotland: “After hearing the results of these four vaccines we have early preliminary results for, then just waiting for the regulators to act, and the MHRA has been looking at data on the Pfizer vaccine for some time, now they are able to approve that for use and we have done that incredibly quickly.
“It’s really encouraging news.”
She said as many as 4.4 million people in Scotland could be vaccinated, adding that the Scottish Government hopes to vaccinate at least one million by the end of January.
She said: “Other vaccines will get approval now, I would be pretty confident the AstraZeneca/Oxford one will as well, so Pfizer will not be the only show on the road, if that makes sense.
“But I would imagine we will see things gearing up very quickly in the next few days.”
Speaking about when life could become more normal, she added: “I would be very optimistic that by the spring there will be much more we can do.
“It’s going to take some months though to get this to everybody and we need to keep that in mind.”
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