The "first big wave" of Covid-19 vaccinations - which will include Scotland's most vulnerable, the over 80s, and health and social care workers - could be completed by the spring, the health secretary has said.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman confirmed that Scotland will receive 8.2 per cent of the 800,000 doses in the first delivery obtained for distribution in the UK, with more expected in the following weeks.  

The UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use on Wednesday.

And only six short days following the announcement, the first coronavirus vaccines will begin to be administered in Scotland when they go ahead on Tuesday.

Ms Freeman told BBC Good Morning Scotland that the doses will go to the 23 commercial-size freezers in acute hospitals around Scotland which can hold the vaccine in the very low temperature it requires.

She added that discussions are under way about the logistics of distributing the vaccine, which has to be stored at an ultra-low temperature of between minus 70C and minus 80C, and it is not possible to take it into care homes at this point.

Ms Freeman said: “The doses come to us in packs of 997 and we need to know to what degree can we pack that down into smaller pack sizes, because if we can’t then we need to absolutely bring those who are to be vaccinated to those freezers, in effect to the centres, because there’s a limit to how much you can transport the doses once you’ve defrosted them.

“The problem is the pack size – 997 doses each then has to be used in a very limited time period once you’ve defrosted it. We don’t want to waste any of this vaccine so it’s not possible at this point in smaller doses to take it, for example, into care homes – that’s the work that’s under way and our chief pharmaceutical officer is busy talking to both Pfizer and to the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) about how can we transport this.

“For Tuesday the intention is we would start by vaccinating those who will be vaccinating others and we will bring them to where we’re storing the doses.”

She said future plans include mass vaccination centres but that will be further down the line when vaccinators are dealing with much younger people.

Other plans include mobile vaccination centres and high street locations where people can go for a jab.

When asked how long she thinks the programme will take if the aim is to have just over four million adults in Scotland vaccinated, she said the first wave could be completed by the spring.

She said: “As long as the supplies arrive in a regular basis and other vaccines come through and are authorised, then we would expect to have completed the programme for those who are in the first big wave, so that’s those over 80, health and social care workers, and so on down by about the spring and then we will move to the younger age group.”

She stressed that the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisations has advised health authorities to focus on age priority, working from the oldest citizens down to the the youngest.