Covid in Scotland: First vaccine arrives in Scotland

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The first Covid-19 vaccine has arrived in Scotland, the health secretary has confirmed.

Jeane Freeman said the vaccination programme would begin on Tuesday.

The first vaccinations will be given to priority groups including care home residents and staff, the elderly and frontline health workers.

The news comes as it was announced a further 22 people who tested positive for coronavirus had been recorded to have died in the past 24 hours.

There are currently 965 people in hospital with a positive Covid test and 64 of those are in ICU.

Scottish government figures show the total number of positive cases in Scotland has risen by 777 since Friday, which is 4.5% of those tested.

NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde has 210 new cases, while there are 149 in NHS Lothian and 117 in NHS Lanarkshire.

The remainder of the positive cases are split between the other eight mainland health boards.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said the new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 illness - is safe to roll out, and immunisations for people in priority groups will start within days.

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image captionJeane Freeman said the vaccinations would start on Tuesday

Ms Freeman said: "I am pleased to announce that the vaccine is now in Scotland and being stored safely in order for vaccinations to begin on Tuesday. Science has given us hope and we are starting on a journey which will eventually allow us to escape this terrible virus.

"Following clinical advice from the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) we will begin with those groups which have been prioritised to address 99% of preventable deaths associated with Covid-19. These include the elderly, care home residents and staff, and frontline health and social care workers.

"I ask everyone to be patient as we work through these groups as vaccine supply allows. I urge you to go for the vaccine when it's your turn, but continue to follow the rules as set out in FACTS. And we will eventually reach the end of this pandemic by working together."

The UK government has already ordered 40 million doses - enough to vaccinate 20 million people, with two shots each.

Second dose

About 800,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to be available in the UK next week, with about 65,500 being made available for Scotland.

Half of the initial supplies of the vaccine that arrive in Scotland in December will be held back for the second dose.

The Scottish government has bought 23 ultra-low temperature freezers to store the vaccine.

They will be based at all major acute hospitals across the country and on Scotland's islands.

There had been fears that homes would not be able to receive the first batch of doses due to logistical challenges caused by the vaccine having to be stored at -70C.

But Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said on Thursday that confirmation on how the vaccine can be transported and stored meant it would now be possible to deliver them to care homes.

image captionDr Carey Lunan hopes over-80s can receive a vaccine at GP surgeries before Christmas

Dr Carey Lunan, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs in Scotland, hopes the over-80s can start receiving the Oxford-Astrazenica vaccine from GPs from 21 December.

She told BBC Scotland: "GPs will have a really crucial role to play in vaccinating the over-80s.

"We recognise that for that group of people, who've also got underlying health conditions or are more frail, it's not as appropriate for them to be going to the mass vaccination centres and they will be invited to come into their GP practices."

She added that vaccination uptake was lower in areas of higher social deprivation and among some ethnic groups.

"There's a lot of thinking and planning that needs to be done to make sure that everyone is able to get this vaccine," she said.

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