CARE home residents will receive coronavirus vaccinations from December 14 onwards, Scotland's Health Secretary has confirmed. 

Jeane Freeman said ministers have been told the the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can be transported in an unfrozen state and in smaller pack sizes, allowing it to be taken into care homes.

There had been logistical concerns around delivering the jab to elderly residents, as it needs to be stored at a temperature of about -70C.

But Ms Freeman said ministers have now had confirmation that the vaccine "can be transported in an unfrozen state for up to 12 hours and can be stored undiluted for up to five days". 

She added: "I'm also pleased to confirm that under certain conditions we can pack down to smaller pack sizes, both of which makes this vaccine more usable, with minimum wastage, for care home residents and for our older citizens.

"So in effect we can take the vaccine to them, or close to them, and we will begin that exercise from December 14."

The first vaccinations are due to be administered in Scotland next Tuesday.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed Scotland should receive 65,500 doses before that date.

Because the vaccine needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, the Scottish Government has purchased 23 special freezers to keep it in the correct conditions.

They are located across all of Scotland's health boards and island authorities. 

However Ms Freeman said spy chiefs have expressed concerns about the exact location of these facilities being made public.

Speaking in Holyrood, she told MSPs: "I would wish to advise members where they are, but I have to say - and this is not a reason for not doing that - but national security, which is a part of MI5, is very unsure about the wisdom of making public where our storage is for what is a very precious vaccine indeed. 

"And so we continue to talk on a four-nation basis with them, because obviously and evidently people want to know that their area is covered. 

"What I can do and will do is advise members of how many each board area has, so that you can see, I hope, that we are ensuring proper coverage."

With two doses of the jab required, the 65,500 doses initially expected will be enough to provide protection for 32,750 Scots.

Ms Freeman said the first phase of vaccinations should be completed by the end of spring 2021.

She said: "On the basis that we receive the vaccine supply we expect, when we expect it, we should vaccinate the first phase by spring of next year.

"The rest of the adult population will follow as quickly as possible thereafter."

As well as being offered to all adults over 18, Ms Freeman said the Pfizer vaccine will be given to 16 and 17-year-olds with underlying health conditions.

However it is not suitable for pregnant women, or those planning on conceiving in the next three months.

The Health Secretary insisted the Scottish Government is "on track" to recruit the 2,000 vaccinators who will be required to administer the injections.

Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson said a number of key questions "remain unanswered and we need to hear those details quickly since vaccinations will begin next week".

During First Minister's Questions, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard also questioned whether Ms Sturgeon was "really going to leave" public health minister Joe FitzPatrick in charge of delivering the vaccine rollout. Mr FitzPatrick was mocked following a shambolic appearance in Holyrood on Wednesday.

It came as Ms Sturgeon confirmed a further 51 deaths from coronavirus and 958 more positive cases have been recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours.

Elsewhere, she said the Scottish Government has no plans to bring in Covid vaccine passports, citing practical and ethical flaws with the idea.

The First Minister said there were issues with data security and Covid safety around using paperwork or phone apps as proof of having been vaccinated.

“We have no plans to introduce immunity passports,” she insisted at FMQs, following mixed messages at the top of the UK Government.