Politicians and scientists have welcomed the news that a coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out within weeks.
Speaking on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon said that while there are “no guarantees yet”, she hopes people will start receiving the vaccine before the end of this year, or “certainly very early next year”.
Her comments came after drugs manufacturer Pfizer revealed earlier in the week that its Covid-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective at preventing the virus.
But who will be prioritised for the vaccine?
The UK Government has secured access to 40 million doses with 10 million set to become available, with the NHS and armed forces on standby to help roll it out.
According to the Scottish Government, vaccination policy north of the border “is based on the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)”.
The independent panel has recently outlined “preliminary” information of a priority list.
1. older adults’ resident in a care home and care home workers
2. all those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers
3. all those 75 years of age and over
4. all those 70 years of age and over
5. all those 65 years of age and over
6. high-risk adults under 65 years of age
7. moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age
8. all those 60 years of age and over
9. all those 55 years of age and over
10. all those 50 years of age and over
11. rest of the population (priority to be determined)
The JCVI did, however, note that “the prioritisation could change substantially if the first available vaccines were not considered suitable for, or effective in, older adults.”
During First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie raised concerns that not everyone will be willing to vaccinated.
He said “online conspiracies are gaining an audience in Scotland”, adding “these conspiracies include ideas links to Covid denial, anti-vaccine myths, as well as climate denial”.
Mr Harvie said research suggests as many as a third of people could be “uncertain or unlikely to accept a vaccine when it is available”.
He asked Ms Sturgeon what her Government is doing to combat “dangerous” conspiracy theories, as well as what action it will take to “build public confidence in a future vaccine so we can maximise uptake”.
She told him: “I think all of us should guard against buying into conspiracy theories on the internet or anywhere else, and on Covid that is obviously particularly important.”
The First Minister stressed coronavirus vaccines will go through “all the proper and regulatory processes”.
She said: “It is important we are all very clear that when vaccines are given clearance to be used, then they are safe to use.”
Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will “make sure all of the information about the vaccine is made available and we take steps to address any concerns that people”.
She said: “I hope, though there is no guarantees yet, but I hope we may even be a position before the end of this year or certainly very early next year to start vaccinating people against Covid.”
When this happens she said the message will be “very clear if you are in one of the eligible groups come forward for vaccination, you are protecting yourselves but you are also helping to protect others”.