PATIENTS in Tayside have been amongst the first in Scotland to receive the Oxford/Astrazeneca coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
The vaccine was approved for use on the 30th of December by the Medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency (MHRA).
NHS Tayside is rolling out the vaccines through GP practices in the community, while continuing to vaccinate elderly residents and staff in care homes.
The Astrazeneca vaccine was procured on behalf of the four nations by the UK Government, who have ordered 100 million doses, of which Scotland will get 8.2% based on its population.
As with the Pfizer vaccine, this second vaccine provides an important additional layer of protection to all adults but particularly those most at risk from serious illness and death from COVID-19.
With age as the greatest risk factor, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have retained the same phase 1 priority list for both vaccines.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Seeing the Astrazeneca vaccine being administered to people in the community aged over 80 is a good way to start the New Year and I’m grateful to everyone in NHS Tayside and boards across the country for their work in preparing for the delivery of this newest vaccine.
“Oxford AstraZeneca has the advantage of being much easier to store and transport, which means it is easier to administer in local settings.
“We are also expecting to receive it in significantly larger quantities than the Pfizer vaccine.
“When it is your turn to be vaccinated you will be contacted by your local health board and I urge you to please take up the offer.
The government has said that the priority now is to vaccinate as many people with the first dose as quickly as possible.
The second dose of the vaccine has been said to be crucial for longer term protection for patients.
Associate Director of Public Health Dr Daniel Chandler, Immunisations Co-ordinator, who is overseeing the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Tayside said: “The efforts of our vaccination teams have been amazing and it is testament to a real whole team approach that sees the first over-80s in the general population have their jabs today in Tayside.
“The availability and mobility of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine gives us the opportunity to start to roll out the biggest vaccine programme that the UK has ever seen across our communities.
“Over-80s are the first priority group and patients will be contacted directly to attend a vaccination session.
“Today’s commencement of the community roll-out marks an important next phase in our response to COVID-19.
“It will act to suppress the virus in our communities to protect those who are most vulnerable, but the plea from all of us in the NHS is keep sticking with all the guidance.”
James Shaw (82), who was one of the first to be vaccinated alongside his wife Malita, also 82, spoke of his experience with the vaccine
Mr Shaw said: “My wife and I are delighted to be receiving this vaccination. I have asthma and bronchitis and I have been desperate to have it so I am really pleased to be one of the first to be getting it.
“I know it takes a little while for the vaccine to work but after today I know that I will feel a bit less worried about going out.
“I will still be very careful and avoid busy places but knowing I have been vaccinated will really help me.
“All of my friends have said they are going to have the vaccine when it is their turn and I would encourage everyone who is offered this vaccination to take it.”