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Covid in Scotland: Health boards 'will be ready' to deliver vaccine

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Health boards in Scotland "will be ready" to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine across the country, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted.

The firms behind the first effective vaccine hope to get emergency approval to use it by the end of the month.

The first minister said she was "confident" that health teams would be ready to distribute it nation-wide.

Ms Sturgeon said the vaccine would be available from local premises through a nationally-coordinated system.

She added that while there were still questions to be answered about the vaccine's effectiveness and how it will be rolled out, there was "very distinctive light at the end of the tunnel".

The "milestone" vaccine - being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech - has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries without safety concerns being raised.

Preliminary analysis suggests it can prevent more than 90% of people from getting coronavirus, and the UK government has already ordered 40m doses.

The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month, leading to questions about how ready governments are to distribute it to the populace.

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image captionNicola Sturgeon said the vaccine could be "light at the end of the tunnel"

Ms Sturgeon said she and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman were monitoring developments "on a daily basis" and would set out details about who will get access to the vaccine first and how it will work in due course.

She was pressed for answers by Scottish Conservative group leader Ruth Davidson, who said: "We can't afford to leave this to the last minute and encounter the significant and chronic problems that affected the flu vaccine rollout this year."

The first minister replied: "We are confident health boards will be at a level of readiness to deliver that. There will be a nationally-coordinated approach, although delivery will be health board-led.

"There will be a number of places and premises, including local premises like pharmacies, across the country that will be part of that programme.

"This is going to be one of the biggest vaccination programmes we have ever undertaken - it will certainly be on a par to flu, although on the basis of the Pfizer vaccine we think people will need two doses, three weeks apart, so there are even more complicated logistics involved."

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has to be stored in extremely cold conditions of below minus 80C.

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government had already procured "around 20 very large fridges" for this purpose.

She said these would be set up in "strategic locations around the country", and that work was under way to establish how vaccines would then be transported to the locations where they would be administered.

She said: "All of these things are under very close and active consideration and deployment, including the procurement of big fridges."

Related Topics

  • NHS Scotland
  • Nicola Sturgeon

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