SCOTS may begin receiving vaccinations against Covid-19 before the end of the year, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister warned there are “no guarantees yet” on when stock of a coronavirus vaccine could be available in Scotland, but added that she hopes people will start receiving jabs before the end of this year or “certainly very early next year”.
Her comments at First Minister’s Questions today came after drugs manufacturer Pfizer revealed earlier in the week that its Covid-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective at preventing the virus.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie raised concerns that not everyone will be willing to vaccinated.
He said “online conspiracies are gaining an audience in Scotland”, adding “these conspiracies include ideas links to Covid denial, anti-vaccine myths, as well as climate denial”.
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Harvie said research suggests as many as a third of people could be “uncertain or unlikely to accept a vaccine when it is available”.
He asked Sturgeon what her Government is doing to combat “dangerous” conspiracy theories, as well as what action it will take to “build public confidence in a future vaccine so we can maximise uptake”.
The First Minister answered: “I think all of us should guard against buying into conspiracy theories on the internet or anywhere else, and on Covid that is obviously particularly important.”
Sturgeon stressed that coronavirus vaccines will go through “all the proper and regulatory processes”, adding: “It is important we are all very clear that when vaccines are given clearance to be used, then they are safe to use.”
Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will “make sure all of the information about the vaccine is made available and we take steps to address any concerns that people”.
She said: “I hope, though there is no guarantees yet, but I hope we may even be a position before the end of this year or certainly very early next year to start vaccinating people against Covid.”
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When this happens she said the message will be “very clear”: “If you are in one of the eligible groups, come forward for vaccination.
“You are protecting yourselves but you are also helping to protect others.”
Anti-lockdown protests and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories have overlapped in recent months.
Those campaigning against lockdowns in Scotland and south of the Border have been seen holding signs saying “No to mandatory vaccines” and making unfounded claims about vaccinations “causing” autism.
A UK-wide study in September this year found just 49% of people were “very likely” to accept a Covid vaccine, with one-fifth of the 70,000 respondents likely to refuse the jab.