UP TO a million could be vaccinated against the coronavirus by the end of January, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has revealed. 

She told MSPs that the inoculation programme could - if approved by regulatory bodies - start as soon as the first week of December, with everyone in Scotland over the age of 18 offered a dose by Spring 2021.

Frontline NHS and care workers will be among the first recipients.

The Health Secretary said distributing the vaccine would be one of "the biggest civilian logistical challenges in our lifetime."

She admitted there were still many "unknowns" but said the vaccine would give people a "level of protection we don't have through any other means."

Freeman said: "We don't know if this vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine, will stop you getting the virus, stop you passing the virus on, or prevent it from causing serious harm, and it may take many months before we fully understand the level of protection on transmission, and the impact on reducing the severity of the illness caused by the virus.

"We know that the first vaccines will require two doses, three to four weeks apart. It's possible that further booster doses and even an annual programme might be required given we do not know how long any protection will last.

"For now, the important thing is that when we start to deliver these first vaccines, it will be on the basis that they offer some form of protection, even if we don't, at this stage, know exactly how much protection that is.

"And it will be safe. So when we get in touch with you please go for the vaccine. It offers you a level of protection we don't have through any other means."

The first wave of the vaccination programme will run from December to February, and target frontline NHS workers, care home staff, unpaid carers, those over 80 and those delivering the vaccine programme.

Freeman told MSPs that about 2,000 vaccinators would be needed, with some working from mobile centres in public locations, and others delivering the vaccine in GPs surgeries, and,  if necessary, in people's homes.

She said there would be support from the military, though she said the logistics of how the vaccines are transported and stored are still being addressed.

The UK has bought supplies of seven Covid-19 vaccine candidates, including those from Pfizer/BioNTech and from Moderna.