Aberdeen’s P&J Live is to be transformed into a mass Covid vaccination centre delivering 20,000 jabs per week, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman says.
The state-of-the-art venue is to be one of several large-scale hubs set up with military support to help deliver a weekly average of 400,000 Scottish injections by the end of February.
Ms Freeman warned the new, more infectious variant of Covid meant Scotland faced a “more perilous situation than at any point in this pandemic” as she outlined her plans to prioritise the most vulnerable and elderly.
The Health Secretary suggested the mass vaccination centres could operate on a 24-hour basis. She also signalled there would be flexibility within the programme to vaccinate people in remote areas across age ranges efficiently.
And the Scottish Government is also considering using mobile libraries to administer the vaccine in rural outposts.
Making a statement to Holyrood, Ms Freeman said Scotland has been allocated 562,125 vaccine doses and, of these, 365,000 have arrived in vaccination centres, to health boards or to GPs.
A further 155,025 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 42,100 of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine are either in transit or storage, she added.
In addition, Scotland expects to take delivery of supplies of the Moderna vaccine by the end of April.
Ms Freeman said by the first week in February all care home residents, care home staff, frontline health and social care staff and those over 80 will have received their first jab of the two-dose vaccine.
People aged 70 and over will receive their first dose by mid-February and over 65s – plus those classified as “clinically extremely vulnerable” – by the beginning of March.
Those groups cover the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) priority groups one to five, translating to a total of 1.4 million individuals getting their first dose by the beginning of March.
Ms Freeman said the second-dose vaccination programme would run in parallel, starting from the end of February.
“Our current modelling on required supply indicates that we will be delivering around 400,000 vaccinations from the end of February,” Ms Freeman said.
Heading into February and March, Ms Freeman said more local vaccination sites would be opened up – including community pharmacies, mobile vaccination centres and small-scale vaccination centres.
In addition large-scale sites “capable of delivering in excess of 20,000 vaccinations a week” had been identified, including P&J Live.
In her statement, Ms Freeman referred to the old Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), but it is understood she was referring to P&J Live or TECA (The Event Complex Aberdeen), which replaced the AECC.
It's understood this actually refers to P&J Live, rather than AECC – which Ms Freeman referred to in parliament. https://t.co/E2x6hhbup5
— Original 106 FM (@originalfm) January 13, 2021
Other vaccination centres
Other large-scale centres include the Ravenscraig Sports Facility in Motherwell, Queen Margaret University in Musselburgh and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.
In Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the NHS Louisa Jordan is acting as a vaccination centre, but “rapid work” is under way to secure more sites in that health board area.
Responding to a question from Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon on when 24-hour vaccinations could begin, the Health Secretary said this will be “entirely possible” at the mass sites rather than GP clinics.
She said there are currently 33 military personnel supporting the programme, but that would be stepped up in the larger centres to get them ready for mass vaccination.
Tory MSP Brian Whittle asked the Health Secretary if there is room for flexibility to extend the age ranges being immunised in isolated areas, to cut down the number of trips required by mobile vaccine units.
Ms Freeman said NHS Highland had made the point that sending a team to vaccinate a small number of people in a particular age range could be a waste of resources and time, if they had to go back again to do another age bracket.
“In those instances (through) discussions both by board with us we are liable or likely to accord that degree of flexibility to say if you are going into village ‘x’ do everyone there who is over 60 – for example, in one shot, because that will be quicker,” Ms Freeman said.
Ms Freeman said more than 80% of care home residents in Scotland have received their first jab so far.
Also given their first dose were 55% of care home staff, just under 52% of frontline NHS and social care staff plus just over 2% of those aged 80 and over.
She added that all members of those groups would get their first injection by the first week in February.
The Health Secretary added that 191,965 people have received their first dose and 2,090 their second dose of the vaccine, based on the latest information available at 8.30am on Wednesday.