19,000 Fifers in Phase One of COVID vaccine which could start next month
NHS Fife has outlined how it is preparing to vaccinate up to 19,000 people in the first phase of Covid-19 inoculation, hailed by local health chiefs as "the single largest public health intervention in modern times".
A meeting of the health board today was told how Fife submitted the first draft of its COVID vaccination plan to the Scottish Government earlier this month.
The scheme - described as a 'moving feast' by chair, Tricia Marwick - will target thousands of locals in Phase One starting from as early as next month, pending approval of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Health and social care workers, care home residents and staff, the over-80s and unpaid carers are set to be first in line for the vaccination, along with those responsible for administering the vaccine itself - some of whom are likely to be drafted in from NHS Fife's existing seasonal flu team.
Health chiefs have already begun undertaking assessments of where to host the vaccine, which people are expected to travel to in order to receive it because of how it has to be stored.
The first COVID vaccines require intense refrigeration, making wider distribution impractical.
However, the board has not ruled out creating 'pop-up' clinics in local areas for those who cannot travel.
Scott Garden, director of pharmacy and medicines, said the plans were likely to change over time as eligibility for the vaccine expanded - but would prioritise access to the vaccine in a safe and accessible way.
"We're really taking a person-centred and locally focused approach. That will help us greatly in ensuring the highest uptake of this vaccine," he said.
Les Bisset, vice-chair of NHS Fife, said the team was "prepared" for the vaccine's first phase.
However, chair Tricia Marwick has also appealed to those who are not likely to be eligible for the first phase of the vaccine to be patient.
"We need to ask people to be patient for us," she said. "We will go as fast as is humanly possible but there should not be false expectations that as soon as the vaccine is available that everyone can just turn up and get a vaccine, as that's not how it's going to work.