Margaret Swift who is a retired care worker from Edinburgh was first in line for vaccination as the Edinburgh International Conference Centre opened its doors on Monday.

She was among around 1700 people who were admitted to the mass vaccination centre this morning.

Ms Swift said: “I was so worried before I came, but it was fine, there were no problems and I didn’t feel a thing. The staff were very nice and I can’t fault anything. I’m glad I’ve had it.  

“I’m feeling fine now and hopefully this is the start of us getting back to some normality.”

Margaret Swift at EICC

The EICC is capable of vaccinating more than 21,000 people a week through 45 stations, while Strathbrock has six stations, capable of vaccinating 2352 people every week. The West Lothian centre will then move to Pyramids Business Park on February 15, which will provide 14,280 vaccinations every week at 34 stations.

NHS Lothian said it is on track to complete Wave One by 5 February and explained that one reason for apparently low figures is that data published by Public Health Scotland has not included NHS Lothian’s programme to vaccinate this over the age of 80 – which is carried out in GPs’ practices in Lothian.

In all, over 85,000 people have been vaccinated.

This includes:

26,560 Lothian residents over the age of 80 have been vaccinated by their GP practice which represents 88% of the total.

54,354 frontline health and social care staff, care home staff and residents and hospital inpatients over the age of 80.

Approximately 4,500 between the ages of 75-80 have been vaccination via their GP practice.

The care home programme across Lothian is complete, meaning that all residents in care homes who are eligible have been offered the vaccine, and the vast majority have accepted. Some residents could not be vaccinated during the first round either because they were Covid positive at the time, or a close contacts of someone with Covid. A rolling programme of revisiting all care home will now begin to vaccinate those people and any new residents.

David Small, Director of Primary Care Transformation and executive lead for the vaccination programme, NHS Lothian, said: “We are really pleased that we have finally begun the programme that will see thousands of people given vital protection from the virus.

 “This is a huge step in the right direction in our fight against COVID-19 and it is encouraging to see all of our planning turn into reality.

“It has taken a lot of work and I’m really proud of all the effort from all of our teams.

“We have already vaccinated the vast majority of the first groups to be prioritised, including frontline health and social care staff; care home staff and residents and people over the age of 80. 

“Nearly 83,000 people have already had their first dose of the vaccine and we are on track to complete the first wave, which includes frontline health and social care staff; care home staff and residents and people over the age of 80,  by February 5th.”

People aged between 75-79 and those most clinically vulnerable will be given appointments to be vaccinated by their GP, while those aged between 70-74 and 65 to 69 will be invited into these mass vaccination sites and smaller community venues for their injections.

A team of over 500 volunteer vaccinators, with a vast array of experience from a huge number of clinical roles in Lothian, has been created to work in the mass vaccination sites. They will be supported by around 100 administrative staff.

Sarah Macleod, one of NHS Lothian’s vaccinators at the EICC, said: “It’s fantastic to be involved and to be vaccinating the elderly and the vulnerable to help them get some normality back to life. Many of these people have been shielding for months or over a year so this is really is a light at the end of the tunnel for them.”

The next to open will be the Members Hall at Royal Highland Showground with nine stations, a drive through vaccination centre at Queen Margaret University which will have 16 stations and capacity for vaccinating 8,000 people each week when it opens on 10 February. After that on 15 February, a vaccination centre with 32 stations will be created at Edinburgh Park in the former RBS building, a second site at the Royal Highland Showground with 50 stations which will open in March.

If patients absolutely cannot keep the appointment they have been given, they are being asked to call the COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 to rearrange their appointment. If they are aged 75 and over, they should phone their GP practice to rearrange their appointment.

More details and information about the venues can be found on NHS Lothian’s website https://www.nhslothian.scot/Coronavirus/Vaccine/Pages/default.aspx

The full list of venues is as follows:

Mass vaccination centres

Edinburgh International Conference Centre (From 1 February)

Strathbrock Partnership Centre (1-14 February)

Royal Highland Showground (From 3 February)

Queen Margaret University (from 10 February)

Pyramids Business Park (From 15 February)

Former Royal Bank of Scotland Edinburgh Park

Community vaccination centres

Pennywell

Leith Community Treatment Centre

Gracemount Medical Centre

Sighthill Health Centre

Craigmillar Medical Centre

Howden Health Centre

East Lothian Community Hospital

Midlothian Community Hospital

Nurse Sarah MacLeod, from the Vaccination Team, prepares a vaccine at the coronavirus mass vaccine centre at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. Picture date: Monday February 1, 2021. PHOTO Jane Barlow PA /Wire