SCOTLAND’s chief medical officer has warned that “misinformation” over Covid vaccines is one “of the biggest dangers” Scotland faces. 

Gregor Smith was speaking after reports over the weekend that care homes were targeted by anti-vaccination groups.

Umbrella body Scottish Care said there was "concerted campaign to convince care home managers and staff not to receive the Covid-19 vaccination".

READ MORE: Covid in Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon announces 1429 new cases in update

Some of the correspondence claimed the vaccine is "entirely experimental" with "many unanswered questions" regarding safety.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, Smith urged Scots to be wary of where they get their information about the jab.

He said: “I think one of the biggest dangers that we face actually is misinformation in relation to vaccination. And when I hear about particularly targeted misinformation to any particular groups, it makes me really concerned because it preys on people's anxiety and fear.

“My plea to everyone is to read trusted sources of information in relation to the vaccination.”

The top medic, along with the chief nursing officer, and the chief pharmaceutical officer are to write to care workers urging them to get the Covid vaccine.

He said the letter would “explain exactly the rationale behind vaccination and what it can offer in terms of protection”. 

Smith added: “I myself will have no hesitation in taking this vaccine when it comes, I would encourage everyone to do the same. But just as importantly, I would encourage everyone, please, to make sure that when you are reading up, and you're trying to learn more about the vaccination that you're going to those trusted sources of information, rather than some of the things which I've seen being distributed particularly in social media.”

Nicola Sturgeon added: “Whoever you are, whatever sector you work in whatever age you are, when you are offered this vaccine my strong, strong plea, advice, encouragement exhortation call it what you want, is to get the vaccine. 

"It’s for your own good. And of course, it helps us collectively fight this virus.

She added: “As soon as I get the opportunity to get this vaccine I'll be there with my sleeves rolled up, getting it and I would encourage everybody to do likewise.”

Over the weekend, Scottish Care CEO Dr Donald Macaskill said there co-ordinated campaign targeting care home managers and staff.

He said: "To be at the receiving end of such a coordinated campaign at a time when many homes are struggling with live Covid-19 outbreaks is wholly despicable."

Macaskill added: "We all want an end to the helplessness we have been feeling in care homes. We all want to see families reconnected with residents. We all want a restoration of normality.

"Vaccination is the hope which offers us the potential of achieving all this and anything that insidiously tries to spread mis-information and falsehood, to create fear and anxiety prevents us all from the protection we need to provide for our residents and staff.”

Figures obtained by the PA news agency from a number of care providers showed between 5% and 21% of staff offered a vaccine had declined it.

One large UK care home group, which asked to remain anonymous, told the news agency that more than half of residents and 36.8% of staff had had at least one vaccine dose, as of January 14.

However, they said 21% of staff and 2.7% of residents offered the vaccine had chosen not to take it up.

Nadra Ahmed, from the National Care Association (NCA), said about 6% to 8% of care staff still remained nervous or resistant to taking the vaccine due to health and cultural reasons, down from 18 to 20% at the start of the rollout.

The NCA is also seeking legal advice on whether care workers could be forced to take the jab.

Last month, in a wide ranging survey across the UK, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Imperial College London found that 8.7% of people said they would “definitely not” accept a vaccine but 47.5% said they would “definitely” accept it.