First Covid-19 vaccinations begin in Scotland
Scotland’s first Covid-19 jabs have taken place in Edinburgh, with those who will be vaccinating others receiving their initial dose.
Andrew Mencnarowski, a clinical lead at NHS Lothian, was among the first in line to be vaccinated at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh on Tuesday.
The hospital is one of 23 sites around Scotland that will act as vaccination centres for the priority groups.
After vaccinators receive the jab, the focus will then turn to residents in care homes for older adults and their carers, and other frontline healthcare workers.
People over the age of 80 will then receive their injections, as supply allows.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman 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.”
She urged people to stick to the restrictions and follow public health advice to “keep suppressing the virus to as low a level as we can” while the vaccination programme gets under way.
The Scottish Government said because those being vaccinated need two doses at least 21 days apart, 50% of the vaccines will be kept back to make sure the second injection can be given within the advised timeframe.
Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother, was the first person in the UK to receive the jab at 6.31am in Coventry on Tuesday.
The UK is the first country in the world to start using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after regulators approved its use last week.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said viewing footage of the moment gave her “a lump in the throat”.
She tweeted: “Feels like such a milestone moment after a tough year for everyone.”
Scotland’s deputy chief medical officer Nicola Steedman was at the Western General Hospital to see the rollout begin.
She said: “I felt genuinely privileged to see this long hoped for and clinically crucial vaccination programme begin at NHS Lothian’s Western General Hospital in Edinburgh and I would like to sincerely thank all those involved in the vast amount of work which has allowed us to reach this absolute milestone in our Covid-19 response.
“The arrival of these first Covid-19 vaccines is a huge turning point for us all, and will protect those most at risk from the serious effects of the virus, but we can’t relax yet.”
Earlier on Tuesday, national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch urged Scots to be patient as the coronavirus vaccine is rolled out.
He said there are many logistical difficulties presented by the double-dose vaccine, as well as Scotland currently only having 65,000 vials, although more are expected to be delivered next week.
“(It’s a) big hopeful day but I’m trying not to get over-excited because we don’t have that many vials of the actual drug,” he told the BBC.
The make-up of the vaccine means two jabs have to be administered to ensure full protection, meaning those administering it will not be fully protected in the first few weeks of the programme.
Prof Leitch said he is confident vaccinators will be safe, adding: “They’ll be very, very careful.
“These are highly trained individuals who we’ve been working with for some weeks now, who will be given PPE, who are regular at giving injections and vaccinations, so we have no problems with them going into care homes, going into hospitals, giving vaccinations in a very, very safe way.”