Plans have been approved for mass vaccinations to begin in the north-east.
Vaccine centres across the region have begun opening as the health board ramp up the number of vaccines they will be giving out.
The aim of NHS Grampian is to eventually be able to vaccinate 50,000 people a week, with ongoing recruitment key for them to reach this figure.
The health board is confident all front-facing health and social care staff, older people care home residents and staff will be offered their first dose by the end of January.
After that, they will be focusing on vaccinating those over 70 and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
Stonehaven Town Hall was repurposed to help vaccinate the local community, with GP Dr Kris McLaughlin leading the clinic.
David Pfleger, director of pharmacy for NHS Grampian, said: “Wave two of our vaccination plan sees us start to offer immunisation to the wider community.
“I am pleased to say some small clinics have already taken place this week and these will expand in line with available vaccine supplies.
“This will see our over 80s population (those at home, in sheltered housing, and currently in hospital) be offered the injection.
“As with the flu immunisation programme, we will get in touch with them to offer them an appointment.”
The health board launched a huge recruitment campaign last week to find vaccinators and healthcare support workers.
100 full-time vaccinators will be hired, along with 280 support workers.
The success of the mass vaccinations programme relies on this recruitment, along with the availability of the vaccine.
Mr Pfleger added: “I know there is a great deal of interest in this programme and people are keen to know when they will be offered immunisation.
“I have to stress this is the biggest mass vaccination programme we have ever undertaken and it will take time.
“Our current plan works on the basis that we will offer jabs to people aged 70 and over, and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, throughout February, with the plan widening out further as vaccine supplies and staffing allow.
“Our order of priority following the over 70s is those who are identified as clinically extremely vulnerable according to JCVI guidance, those aged 65-69, those aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions, those aged 60-64, then 55-59 and concluding with those aged 50-54 during April.
“After that, the programme will fully extend to all other adults.”#
Both the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca vaccines will be used in the programme.
They require two doses, with the second one being administered 12 weeks after the first one.
Other approved vaccines will be added to the programme when stocks become available.
They are rigorously tested and checked before being approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Susan Webb, director of public health at NHS Grampian, urged everyone who was offered the vaccine to take it.
She said: “Public safety is our priority. We have complete confidence in the process followed by the MHRA and the population of Grampian can have confidence in that too.
“I would encourage everyone who is offered the vaccine to take up that opportunity.
“There is a wealth of information on the vaccines available on the NHS Inform website and I would encourage anyone with queries – or concerns about their own medical conditions – to pay that website a visit.”
Nearly 25,000 people in Grampian vaccinated for Covid
Almost 25,000 people across the north-east have received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
NHS Grampian had administered around 24,500 jabs by 5pm last night.
The roll-out of the vaccination began in December and is firstly targeting health workers and the most vulnerable to the virus.
Deputy chief executive Adam Coldwells updated NHS Grampian board members and politicians in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray.
It is the first update on the coronavirus vaccination programme from the north-east health board.
Mr Coldwells said: ” The vaccination programme, for the cohorts defined within wave one, commenced in Grampian in December 2020.
“We have completed some 24,500 vaccinations to date.
“The plan is highly dependent upon vaccine supply, which is anticipated to increase over the coming weeks and months.
“Changes in the vaccine supply may lead to changes in the planning assumptions and therefore the delivery of the plan – (with the) potential to be both faster or slower.”