Nicola Sturgeon said news that the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use in the over-12s “makes my heart sing”.
Scotland’s First Minister welcomed the announcement by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) that the jab could be used in the younger age group, following a review of its safety, quality and effectiveness.
But Ms Sturgeon stressed that under-16s are unlikely to start receiving the vaccine any time in the near future.
Asked about the decision, she welcomed the news and said the Scottish Government would wait for advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI) on how to potentially include younger people in the vaccine rollout.
Speaking at the Government’s coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said: “Any good news on vaccines makes my heart sing.
“And I think given the more challenging figures we’re seeing right now, all good news on vaccines is welcome.
“I think it is really positive news.”
She added: “We always follow the advice of the JCVI, we always have done before, but we need to wait for that.
“And then if there is a decision to move ahead to vaccinate that age group, we will need to consider the supply implications of that, over what timescale that would be possible given the supplies of the vaccine, and how we plan the programme to develop in that way.
“So there are still some steps to be taken there.
“It is not the case that the MHRA decision this morning means that children in that age group will suddenly start being vaccinated next week or in a few weeks’ time, there is work to be done there.
“But it is good news. I think anything positive on the vaccine is good news.”
Scotland’s national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, said he expected an update from the JCVI “relatively quickly” but said: “I don’t anticipate 12 to 15-year-olds being vaccinated this week or next week.
“We’ve still got quite a lot to do with second doses for the at-risk population because it is still an unusual event to be seriously unwell as a child.”
Scottish Laboour deputy leader, Jackie Baillie, said: “This is very welcome news and we now need the UK and Scottish Governments to put in place a plan for how these vaccinations will be rolled out to young people aged 12-15.
“There are also many people in Scotland still to receive their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine so we need clarity from the Scottish Government about the availability of the vaccine and how they will ensure both doses are also available for everyone in the 12-15 age group.
“Crucially, after months of disrupted learning, the Scottish Government must be prepared to do all that it can to ensure that the vast majority of secondary school pupils receive at least their first dose for the return to school after the summer holidays.”