PEOPLE in high-priority groups will start to be immunised against COVID-19 from as early as next week.
The government revealed yesterday that 800,000 doses would be available to begin with and several million more would be sent from Belgium in the next few weeks.
Vaccinations will begin with care-home residents all over the UK and will be rolled out to other groups in the new year. Two doses of this particular vaccine are needed.
The programme begins after the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for widespread use.
MHRA regulator Dr June Raine said “no corners have been cut” in approving it.
Everyone in Scotland over the age of 18, that’s 4.4m people, will be offered a vaccination. It is not mandatory.
The priorities for the first wave of vaccine distribution from December to February are frontline health and social care staff, older residents in care homes, care home staff, all those aged 80 and over, unpaid carers and personal assistants and those delivering the vaccination programme.
Those, who meet these criteria, will be contacted in December and January or, if they work in health and social care, by their employer.
After these people have been vaccinated, the advice is that people aged over 65 should be next, followed by under 65s with additional clinical risk.
The wider population will then be vaccinated.
Public health experts say it will likely be next spring or summer when mass vaccination of those not in the most vulnerable groups takes place.
However, this depends on how many doses are available.
It is the news everyone has been waiting for during a very challenging 2020.
The E&L Advertiser asked readers whether they would have the vaccine.
Langholm resident Gavin Graham said: “I’m definitely going to get it. The sooner the better so we can get back to normal.
“Vaccinations have made the world a better place without polio measles and many other diseases.”
Katrine Eagleson, also of Langholm, said: “Any means necessary to get us all back on an even keel.”
Rachel Atkinson says she doesn’t believe it will be available to the masses until the following year.
She added: “If I’m offered it, I will have it but I think we will run out of stocks early on.”
Jim Rowan of Newcastleton said: “Most definitely. The world is a far healthier place with the vaccinations available. Where would we be without them? Probably in a cemetery somewhere.”
Christine Calvert, who lives in Langholm, said: “Definitely. We need a type of normality back in our lives for everyone’s mental health. We need to be able to meet family and friends.”
Mandy Rae, who lives in Westerkirk, said: “I have a phobia about injections but will definitely be getting the vaccine. The sooner this is over the better.”
Margaret Hudson of Langholm said: “I’m definitely going to have it. The sooner the better.”
In the meantime, Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders remain in Level 2.
NHS Dumfries & Galloway is planning how to deliver the vaccines.
David Mundell, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP, and OIiver Mundell, Dumfriesshire MSP, asked for an update from Jeff Ace, NHS Dumfries & Galloway’s chief executive on the vaccine programme.
Both politicians would like vaccine delivery locations to be as close as possible to recipients’ homes.
Mr Ace said: “We’re awaiting details of the timing of our allocations of the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccines.
“We are planning on the reasonable assumption of receiving supplies of the Pfizer vaccine before Christmas and the Astra Zeneca product early in the New Year.
“The particular storage and transport complications of the Pfizer vaccine make it less easy to deliver to home or small community settings and we anticipate this product will be administered through a mass vaccination centre.
“The Astra Zeneca product is far more flexible in storage and administration and will be the one we take to communities in smaller vaccination hubs and individuals unable to leave home or care homes early in the New Year.
“As you can imagine, the logistics of this programme are hugely challenging and we’re diverting staff and planning resources accordingly to ensure we complete vaccination of all older adults and, ultimately, the entire adult population as quickly as possible.
“Both vaccines need two doses about three weeks apart so full population coverage will not be achieved until late in the spring.”