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NHS Ayrshire and Arran received its first delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this week and Tuesday saw the start of the vaccination programme that will be delivered over the coming weeks and months.
The programme will follow the independent advice received from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the prioritisation for receiving the vaccine. The first to be vaccinated will be vaccinators.
As the first eligible groups are prioritised and vaccinated it remains vitally important that everyone continues to follow FACTS and the Scottish Government guidance to protect themselves and others from the virus.
John Burns, NHS Ayrshire and Arran chief executive said: ‘We are delighted to have received our first delivery of the vaccine into NHS Ayrshire and Arran and to have started our vaccination programme.
‘Delivering a vaccination programme of this size will be challenging, however, we have planned carefully to ensure we have an effective programme to deliver vaccination in the weeks and months ahead.
‘As we follow the JCVI prioritised cohorts we will ensure timely communication at each stage of the programme.
‘I realise how challenging these last months have been, however, I would ask that we all continue to follow the FACTS advice to ensure we continue to protect ourselves, our families and friends.’
The vaccine, which must be stored at -70C, is being transported to 23 locations in refrigerated lorries with people who vaccinate others, those aged over 80, and health and social care workers being the first to receive the injections.
Vaccines, which each person must receive two doses of – spaced between 21 and 28 days apart – will be administered according to clinical priority.
The news of a vaccine which offers 95 per cent protection against Covid-19 has been welcomed by many, albeit with the caveat that despite 40 million doses being ordered by the UK Government, it may be some time before everyone can get a vaccine and that people are still to follow the recommended precautions.
Arran’s MSP Kenneth Gibson said: ‘The announcement confirming delivery of a safe and effective vaccine is the best news about the virus since the pandemic began.
‘It’s worth remembering that everyone will require two vaccines, 21 and 28 days apart, so even for those amongst the first to receive it, very few will be completed before early next year.
‘Vaccinators will be vaccinated first, followed by the priority groups recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. NHS Ayrshire and Arran must also consider the challenges around transporting the vaccine to care homes and individual homes and in rural settings, such as on Arran.
‘For all the difficulties that lie ahead, it gives us all real hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight. Of course, the full vaccination period is three to four weeks, and the roll-out of the programme itself will take some time.
‘I therefore ask everyone, whilst we can see some light at the end of the tunnel, to keep protecting yourself by physical distancing and adhering to the restrictions that come with the tier we are in, which is currently tier three.’
Commenting on the roll out in Scotland, West Scotland MSP Jamie Greene said: ‘This is a momentous day for Scotland and the rest of the UK, and hopefully represents the beginning of the end of our long fight against Covid-19.
‘I would urge everybody eligible to get the vaccine, to not just protect yourselves but also the people around you. After a challenging year there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.’
For further information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme visit https://www.nhsinform.scot