COVID-19 vaccinations for over-eighties in central Scotland began this week.

Forth Valley Health Board confirmed the launch of the programme which will be delivered from a number of local GP practices and community venues and builds on the programme already underway to vaccinate frontline health, social care workers, care home staff and residents.

With mainland Scotland now in lockdown, Dr Graham Foster, NHS Forth Valley's director of public health, is reminding people that getting a Covid-19 vaccine is an essential reason to leave the home.

He said: "Approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is great news as it is logistically easier to administer in local settings, meaning that we can roll it out to more people starting with those aged 80 and over.

"However, we'd urge patience as we work through priority groups in line with the national guidance and supplies available.

"Everyone will be invited forward for their vaccine in due course and there is no need for anyone to contact their GP Practice as they will be contacted direct as soon as appointments are available."

NHS Forth Valley's immunisation teams have already vaccinated more than 10,000 people with the Pfizer vaccine which has been delivered to health and social care staff as well as care home staff and residents in all 65 care homes across Forth Valley.

Most people in the community are likely to receive the Oxford-AstraZenica vaccine which can be stored in a regular medical fridge and is more easily transportable.

As with the flu vaccination programme, many people will be vaccinated at their local GP practice while others will be immunised in a community hub and will receive a letter giving them an appointment along with details of where to attend.

Alloa Town Hall is one of a range of venues across the Forth Valley region which has been booked and each person will be given a scheduled appointment to help avoid overcrowding.

More than 20 local GP practices in Forth Valley, including a number in more rural areas, have also opted to deliver Covid-19 immunisations for local patients either within their practice or in another local facility with more space.

The vaccine requires two doses to offer the best possible protection. Second dose appointments will be scheduled for up to twelve weeks after the first dose is administered, in line with updated recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Scott Mitchell, NHS Forth Valley's director of pharmacy, added: "If anyone has any difficulties in attending their scheduled Covid-19 vaccination appointment or need to change it then they can email or phone our local vaccination helpline using the contact information in the letter.

"We would also remind people that cases of Covid-19 are still increasing rapidly due to the new variant, so even if you have received the vaccine you still need to wear a face covering, wash your hands frequently and keep a safe distance from others as the vaccine doesn't offer immediate protection."