Vaccinations could begin on a 24-hour schedule when mass centres open in late February or early March, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said.
Updating MSPs on the vaccine rollout on Wednesday, she said all those in the first five priority groups – 1.4 million people including those aged over 65 and those who are “extremely vulnerable” – should receive their first dose by the beginning of March.
She said the Scottish Government hopes to scale up its delivery of vaccinations to 400,000 a week by the end of February.
A total of 191,965 people have now received their first dose and 2,990 have also had their second jab, she said.
Ms Freeman told the Scottish Parliament that the rapid spread of the new coronavirus variant means the pandemic is at its most “perilous” stage, but the vaccine “offers us hope”.
She said some sites for mass vaccination centres have already been secured, including Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, Ravenscraig Sports Facility, Queen Margaret University, and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.
Responding to a question from Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon on when 24-hour vaccinations could begin, the Health Secretary said this will be “entirely possible” at the mass sites rather than GP clinics.
She said: “Many are secured already but I would anticipate in terms of the volume of people and the groups that we want to put through there, for whom that is convenient, that would be end February, early March.
“I can confirm those dates to Ms Lennon after this session.
“The will is to do that if that’s what it takes.”
Those aged over 70 should hear when they are receiving their first dose of the vaccine by the end of the month, she said.
Local and national hubs are being set up for volunteers to join the rollout, she said, while an email address has been set up for companies which want to contribute to the vaccination effort.
The Health Secretary said that as of Wednesday, Scotland has been allocated 562,125 vaccine doses and, of these, 365,000 have arrived in vaccination centres, to health boards or to GPs.
A further 155,025 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 42,100 of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab are either in transit or storage, she added.
Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said Scotland’s “stockpile” of nearly 200,000 doses is currently in storage in Bedford and he asked why they are not in circulation.
Ms Freeman said it is “quite wrong” to suggest doses are being stockpiled and they are distributed based on what health boards or GP practices say they need on given weeks.
Later on Wednesday, Public Health Scotland released additional data on vaccinations.
Up to January 10, 3.59% of Scotland’s population had received their first dose of the vaccine – a total of 163,177 individuals.
Just under 7% of all Scots aged 80 or over were vaccinated at this point.
The data was also broken down by health board, with Western Isles having the highest vaccination coverage at 6.76% of the population.
NHS Highland had the lowest coverage at 2.63% of the population.