Plans for vaccinating Scots against coronavirus are already “well advanced”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman is expected to make a statement to Holyrood later this week to set out details of a nationwide vaccination programme.
Up to 4.5 million adults across the country could get the injections at a mix of large vaccination centres and smaller, local ones, she said.
The First Minister and the Health Secretary discussed plans for a mass vaccination campaign at a meeting last week.
It comes as interim data from US firm Moderna suggests its vaccine could prevent 94.5% of people from getting Covid-19.
Ms Sturgeon, speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Monday, said that vaccine is “in the mix” as part of the UK Government’s supply.
She added Pfizer’s vaccine – which announced trial results last week – is the one she expects to have “most supply of most quickly”, then another being developed by AstraZeneca.
“Our planning in Scotland for roll-out and delivery of the vaccine are well advanced,” the First Minister said.
“There are hurdles to overcome but there is every reason to be optimistic about this.”
Chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said there is now “real optimism that vaccines will offer a scientific means by which we can exit this pandemic”.
Ms Freeman said her statement will reveal more details about when people might be able to start getting vaccinated and who will be the first in line.
She said: “We’ve been planning for some time in the hope of vaccines getting through the clinical trials and being approved to run a national vaccination programme for all adults in Scotland – so that’s about 4.5 million people.”
The programme will set out an expected timeline for delivery, with Ms Freeman saying it “is estimated at this point until we are sure when different levels of supply of the vaccine are going to come to us”.
The Health Secretary added: “The plan will also set out who will be vaccinated first, taking the guidance of the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation, and also the various places where people will be able to get their vaccine and how we will let folks know when their appointments are coming up.
“Those places will be a mix of large vaccine hubs where we can put through large numbers of people but also more localised and perhaps mobile vaccination centres, particularly for our remote and rural communities.”
Speaking about the vaccination campaign, she said ministers and health bosses are “just waiting to be absolutely certain about the dates when we can kick it off and get going”.
Support The Courier today.
The Courier is committed to delivering quality content to our communities and right now that’s more important than ever — which is why our key content is free. However, you can support us and access premium content by subscribing to The Courier from just £5.99 a month. Because Local Matters.Subscribe