Scots could be vaccinated against Covid-19 round the clock in a bid to see people given protection against the virus as quickly as possible, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister did not rule out younger people being offered vaccination appointments on a 24/7 basis.
Sturgeon said: “We will look at anything and everything that allows us to get this vaccination programme done as quickly as possible.”
Her comments came as she confirmed that by Monday a total of 175,942 people had received their first dose of vaccine.
Sturgeon said supplies of the vaccine were still “relatively limited”, and that with the focus currently on getting jabs to care home residents and those aged over 80, these groups did “not lend themselves to out-of-hours vaccination”.
But when asked if Scotland could run vaccination clinics around the clock, the First Minister said: “Once we get into the general population, yes, if that is going to help us get through them faster then we will look at that.”
Speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister stressed the government would need to be satisfied a large enough workforce was available to do this, saying that “you can’t have the same people working right round the clock”.
She stated, however, that “this is the kind of work and thinking and modelling that is ongoing all the time”.
The First Minister said: “At the moment, because of the relatively limited nature of supplies, although that is growing all the time, and the population groups, we have been focusing on care homes.
“But once we get into the younger age groups I think the ways in which, the times at which, the settings in which we vaccinate people will become potentially much more flexible.
“I don’t rule anything out. We want to get through this programme as quickly as possible, we want everybody in the adult population to have this vaccine as quickly as possible.”
She stressed: “We want to get this vaccination programme completed as quickly as possible, it is not in the government’s interests to slow this down, it is in our interests to get it speeded up as far as practical.
“The sooner we get the whole population vaccinated the sooner we get back to a greater degree of normality and can start to put this virus behind us.”
The Scottish Conservatives claimed the vaccine programme was missing the government’s own targets.
Health spokesman Donald Cameron said: “At the current speed, they risk falling short of expectations.
“The vaccine is our key weapon against this virus, so we will continue to push the government to accelerate their plans and focus on increasing the pace.”
However, national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch said the vaccination programme was “going better than I expected it to go”.
He said work on this was progressing “really quite smoothly”, saying the UK had so far vaccinated more people than the “whole of Europe put together”.
Prof Leitch said: “The fact that we have been able to vaccinate 80% of our care home residents in four weeks is astonishing.”
And he added that vaccination numbers would “speed up” now it has been rolled out to GP practices, with the focus now on getting the injection to over-80s living at home.