After so many months of often very difficult times, it is an absolute delight to see – this week – the start of a vaccination programme that marks the start of what I very much hope will be a lasting and successful fightback against the pandemic that has had such a massive impact, not just on our lives here in Scotland, but across the entire world.

Given the global nature of the virus, there was something particularly fitting that the first Covid-19 vaccine jag, outwith the trials, was given to Margaret Keenan, a nearly 91 year-old originally from Magherafelt in Northern Ireland but who has lived in Coventry for the last 60 years, and it was administered by May Parsons, a matron at University Hospital in Coventry and originally from the Philippines.

There is a massive logistical operation required to get the vaccine first to the people who need it most and then to the rest of us.

The order of priority for each group in the population has been carefully assessed and begins with residents in care homes for older adults and their carers, moving on to all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers.

The priority list then works down through the age groups: all those over 75 years of age, then all those over 70 years followed by people who are regarded as being clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

Back then to an age-related group with all those 65 years of age and over getting the jag, followed by all those aged 16 to 64 who have with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.

After that, we return to working through the age groups in five year cohorts until everybody over 50 has been vaccinated and at that point it is estimated that, taken together, these groups represent around 99% of preventable mortality from COVID-19.

Sadly, a great many people worldwide have lost their lives or face the prospect of possibly still unknown long-term effects as a result of contracting this extremely contagious virus so the start of the roll-out of the vaccination programme really is an exciting moment that come as a huge relief.

Of course, there is still a very long way to go indeed and it is just as important as ever that we all keep following the advice and guidance in terms of following FACTS – Face coverings, Avoid crowded places, Clean your hands regularly, Two metre distance and Self-isolate and book a test if you experience any symptoms.

There is a great deal of misinformation floating about on the internet and throughout social media about both the virus and the vaccine but I urge everyone to ignore all that noise and take up the opportunity of a vaccination as soon as they become eligible.