All Scots could be vaccinated against coronavirus “in the summer”, the health secretary has said.
However Jeane Freeman refused to say what that could mean in terms of restrictions being lifted – simply reiterating the Scottish Government priority for easing measures would be focused on getting youngsters back into school.
Asked when it might be possible for people to go to pubs or non-essential shops could reopen, Freeman said: “I can’t give you that.”
She told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show: “Education has to be a priority, our children and young people have suffered a great deal in terms of their education and that is about their future.
“Then we will look and see what more can be done.
“We need to learn of course from our previous experiences, and that is every time you ease the restrictions – and of course that is what we all want – you see a rise in case numbers. So you have to have them as low as you can possibly go.”
But the Health Secretary stressed that “as fast as we get supplies we will be vaccinating” as she insisted the current programme was “exceeding” expectations.
Freeman also stressed achieving targets was dependent on Scotland getting sufficient supplies of vaccines.
“There is a scenario where absolutely we move really fast, as long as supplies keep coming,” she said.
“Our ambition is to get through all those 4.5 million adults aged 18 and over in the summer.”
However she said “at this point it is not very sensible to give specific dates because there are a number of unknowns”.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to issue guidance in the coming weeks on how best to proceed with vaccinating the under-50s.
Freeman also said the timing of when vaccines could be given to younger adults was “partly about supplies”.
But she stated: “What is the case is that our infrastructure is there, we have the vaccinators, we have the support staff, we have the local and regional centres.
“So we just keep going, as fast as we get supplies we will be vaccinating.”
The health secretary insisted that Scotland was “absolutely on track” to have all those aged over 70, and all adults classed as being clinically extremely vulnerable, vaccinated by the middle of February.
She stated: “With the numbers being vaccinated every day, we are certainly on track to do that, supplies permitting of course.”
The intention is then for work to begin on vaccinating those aged 50 and above, with ministers hoping this can be achieved by the beginning of May.
Freeman added that the JCVI advice on how best to vaccinate the under-50s should be available “fairly soon”.