Health secretary says Scotland needs to 'vaccinate faster'
Scotland needs to be administering COVID vaccines faster than it has been doing, the health secretary has said.
Jeane Freeman conceded the programme needs to be quicker but said plans in place from this week should "significantly increase" the number of doses administered.
The country has been accused of "lagging behind" the rest of the UK in its rollout of the COVID jag, with Scottish Secretary Alister Jack saying on Sunday around half a million doses made available to Scotland were still in storage - a claim Freeman disputed.
As of this morning, 610,778 people had received their first dose of the vaccine since 8 December, the health secretary said
She added that 34,881 doses were administered in Scotland yesterday - a 55% increase from the previous Monday.
The vaccination programme is expected to ramp up this week, following the opening of mass centres in Edinburgh and Aberdeen yesterday, which adds to the centre at the NHS Louisa Jordan in Glasgow.
However, during his topical question to Freeman, Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: "The plain fact is that Scotland has vaccinated 12.7% of our population compared to 14.8% in Northern Ireland, 16.1% in Wales and 17.8% in England.
"Scotland has the lowest vaccination rate across the devolved nations and indeed the English regions.
"The Scottish secretary has also claimed that half a million vaccinations remain in storage and have not been called down by the Scottish Government.
"What we do not want is vaccine nationalisation or flag-waving but the simple answer to the simple question, which is this: Why are we behind? What is being done to catch up and are we vaccinating enough people each day?"
Freeman responded: "I don't think people want politicians pointing fingers at each other either and I do believe that we need to vaccinate faster in Scotland than we have been doing.
"I think the plans that are in place from this week onwards significantly increase those numbers."
Turning to Jack's comments, she added: "I think the Scottish secretary of state's numbers are wrong.
"However, I'm not going to get into a debate about that because we deliberately, consciously and in a spirit of cooperation agreed not to publish numbers, not to publish figures, in order to respect commercial confidentiality and the wishes of the UK Government.
"You cannot square that position with the secretary of state for Scotland constantly appearing on broadcast media and in print media quoting numbers that we apparently are not allowed to respond to.
"The simple point I would make is he's wrong. He's wrong about that number that he says are in storage."