The first doses of a coronavirus vaccine have begun to be distributed across Scotland.
A grandmother from Coventry was the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech jab on Tuesday morning, marking the start of a phased rollout of the vaccine to those delivering the programme, frontline health and social care workers and older people.
UK health secretary Matt Hancock dubbed it “V-Day”, while First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she “got a lump in her throat” whilst watching a video of Margaret Keenan, 90, receiving the first vaccine, adding that it felt like a “milestone moment after a tough year for everyone”.
How will the vaccine be rolled out?
The Scottish Government received an initial batch of 65,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the weekend, with more on the way.
The vaccine will be stored in refrigerated containers at -70C before being thawed out and distributed from 23 major acute hospitals across Scotland, including the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.
Two doses are required around three weeks apart, so supplies will be halved to allow the second dose to be given within the timeframe.
It is a national programme, so guidance and logistics will be provided by the Scottish Government.
NHS boards will lead local delivery and handle staffing, whilst from phase two there is expected to be a booking service.
Who will receive the jab first?
Those giving the vaccination to others will receive the injection first.
The programme will then follow independent advice received from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which recommended prioritising those with the greatest clinical need – including those aged over 80, frontline health and social care workers, and unpaid carers and personal assistants.
From December 14, the vaccine will be administered to care home residents.
The Scottish Government has said it should be possible to vaccinate everyone eligible in the first phase by spring of next year.
Eventually, everyone in Scotland over the age of 18 – 4.4 million people – will be offered a vaccination.
Who shouldn’t be vaccinated?
Women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant in the next three months have been advised not to get the jab.
Dr Gregor Smith, Scotland’s interim chief medical officer, said this was due to a lack of data round the vaccine’s effects on pregnancy.
Call to remain patient
Health secretary Jeane Freeman has urged Scots to remain patient whilst the first phase of the vaccine is rolled out.
She said a vaccination programme of this scale was “a significant logistical challenge” which required a major nationwide effort.
She said: “This is obviously a very welcome milestone in our collective fight against the pandemic and I am very grateful to all those who have worked so hard to ensure Scotland is ready to deliver these first Covid-19 vaccinations.
“Science has given us hope and we are starting on a journey which will eventually allow us to return to the lives we want to lead.
“We ask everyone to be patient as we work through these groups as quickly as vaccine supply allows and we urge you to go for the vaccine when it’s your turn.
“Meantime it remains very important that as we vaccinate, we all stick to the necessary restrictions and public health advice to keep suppressing the virus to as low a level as we can.
“A vaccination programme of this scale is a significant logistical challenge and requires a major nationwide effort. But it is one we undertake with optimism and determination to succeed.”