Care home Covid vaccinations to begin on December 14

Health secretary announced the plans in a ministerial statement at Holyrood.

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The vaccinations of people in care homes will begin from December 14, the health secretary has said.

Despite previous concerns over keeping the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the -70C temperature it requires, it has now emerged that it can be transported in an unfrozen state for up to 12 hours and can be stored undiluted for up to five days.

This effectively means the vaccine can be taken to care home residents or close to them, Jeane Freeman said.

From Tuesday, the process of vaccinating those who administer the jab will begin and health and social care workers will be next in the queue, the Scottish Parliament was told.

They will be required to take two doses of the vaccine and these will likely be offered 21 to 28 days apart.

It’s hoped all those workers and care home residents will be vaccinated by spring, with the rest of Scotland’s adult population following “as quickly as possible thereafter”.

Scotland is expected to receive 65,500 doses of the newly-approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the coming days.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said earlier on Thursday: “There is no issue more important to this government right now than making sure this vaccination programme works effectively and efficiently, that as soon as we have supplies of vaccine they are used to vaccinate people in the order of priority.

“The focus of me, the health secretary and the entire government is on making sure all the appropriate steps are taken.”

The Scottish Conservatives said crucial questions about the vaccine rollout remained unanswered.

Shadow health spokesman Donald Cameron MSP said: “We all want this vaccine plan to be a success and the lack of urgent answers from the government on key questions is disappointing.

“We have twice asked today, to no avail, for the list of places where people will be able to get vaccinated and when those centres will open.

“The commitment to provide more information on freezers is welcome, although the public will be frustrated that we can’t get a straight answer if the freezers are already in place or not.

“We asked for answers on the number of staff, particularly vaccinators, in place at each health board and again, we hope to hear more clarity on that because it’s unclear at the moment.  

“The government must also clear up the confusion that’s emerging over when they believe every phase of the vaccine will be complete. In the space of 24 hours, SNP ministers have shifted back and forth between spring or later than that. The public needs to understand what is going on, so again we’re asking that they explain which one is correct because it can’t be both.”