The first coronavirus vaccines in Scotland will be administered on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Scotland’s First Minister welcomed the UK becoming the first country in the world to approve the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, saying it may mark the “beginning of the end of the pandemic”.
She also warned delivering the vaccine to more than four million adults across Scotland will be a “massive, massive operation”.
The Scottish Government is working with health boards, councils and the Army on its vaccine plans, with the First Minister saying these are already “well developed”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “This is the biggest logistical peacetime challenge that the country will ever have undertaken.
“The planning is well under way. But there are people in this organisation right now who are full-time working on this to make sure this goes as we need it to.”
The jab has been shown in studies to be 95% effective and works in all age groups.
1,194,269 people in Scotland have been tested for #coronavirus
The total confirmed as positive has risen by 951 to 96,762
Sadly 38 more patients who tested positive have died (3,797 in total)
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) December 2, 2020
Ms Sturgeon made the announcement at the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 briefing on Wednesday as she confirmed 38 coronavirus deaths and 951 cases were recorded in the past 24 hours.
She said: “The first vaccines against Covid will be administered in Scotland on Tuesday December 8.”
This is dependent on the first vaccine doses being received in Scotland when expected, she said, but there is “no reason at this stage to doubt that”.
She added: “Today is genuinely a good day. We’re not at the end of the pandemic yet … we cannot and must not ease up in our efforts to control it.
“But today does feel like it may well be the beginning of the end of this horrible experience.
“For that reason, I am sure I am far from the only one this morning who feels a lightness of heart that I haven’t felt for some time.”
Those giving out vaccines will be the first to be inoculated, followed by health and social care staff, people over 80 and residents in care homes.
The First Minister said it is likely to take into the new year for the two required jabs to be given out to the first recipients, as they are expected to be offered 21 to 28 days apart.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was approved on Wednesday, presents some logistical challenges, the First Minister said, including transportation.
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.
Doses will then be distributed to the different nations of the UK, with the numbers each country will receive linked to their share of the population.
Ms Sturgeon, who is 50, said she will not be in the first groups to get the vaccine because she is “too young”.
But she added: “As soon as I can get this vaccine I will be getting this vaccine.”
The First Minister even said she would be prepared to get the jab live on TV if it encouraged others to get it.
“I would encourage without hesitation everybody who is eligible to get this vaccine as soon as they can,” she said.
She stressed the Scottish Government is “not planning sanctions” for those who decide not to get the vaccine but added: “We will put everything we’ve got behind persuading everybody to get his vaccine as soon as they become eligible.”
Chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said: “When I become eligible for receiving my vaccine dose, I will be there with my sleeve rolled up to make sure I get it.”
He added the Scottish Government is not currently advising those who are pregnant to get the vaccine because of “limited data” about its use in this group.