The P&J Live Arena is to open as a mass vaccination centre this Monday as part of the country’s efforts to curb the coronavirus.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced during the Scottish Government briefing the Aberdeen site would open alongside the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) to those with vaccine appointments.
The EICC will have capacity to vaccinate more than 21,000 people a week at 45 stations. The centre in Aberdeen will start with 20 booths, with the aim being to vaccinate around 6,000 people weekly.
The Scottish Government is aiming to vaccinate those aged 70-79 and the clinically extremely vulnerable – including over-16s on the shielding list – by mid-February.
But Ms Freeman has come under pressure from the Scottish Conservatives after being unable to say when other pre-identified sites would open, including one at Ravenscraig, Motherwell.
As of 8.30am Friday morning, 515,855 first doses of vaccine had been administered in Scotland, including 96% of residents in care homes across the country. This was an increase of 24,197 from the previous day.
As many as 7,095 people have received the second dose, an increase of 312.
A further 68% of people over 80 in the community have also had their first jag, with Ms Freeman saying she was confident they would complete the roll-out of vaccines in these two groups by next week.
Deaths in Scotland from coronavirus breached 6,000 in the last 24 hours, after 70 new fatalities were recorded.
Two deaths occurred in Aberdeen, one in Angus, one in Dundee, nine in Fife, four in Highland and one in Moray.
Na h-Eileanan Siar is expected to enter full lockdown later on Friday, following an outbreak.
Six new cases were recorded by Friday morning, following nine reported the day before.
Ms Freeman acknowledged that although these numbers sound relatively small, proportionately for the Western Isles they were, in fact, large and that Stornoway hospital had reached capacity.
Publishing figures ‘right thing to do’
The Health Secretary reaffirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to publishing daily vaccine figures from the beginning of next week, following the announcement earlier from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The Scottish Government was previously forced to take down vaccination documents it had published online after the UK Government said setting out how many doses are expected and when could breach commercial confidentiality – a claim Ms Freeman denied.
Ms Freeman said: “The bottom line here is that the UK Government has repeatedly briefed the statistics on how much vaccine has been allocated and delivered to Scotland, so it’s not credible for them one day to tell journalists what these figures are, and another day tell us that putting out those figures is a matter of national security.
“That circle really doesn’t square. We’ve held off publication in the past, at their request, but that’s no longer tenable.
“The public has a right to clarity and we will give them that. We’re not talking about future supplies, we’re talking about known supplies, and I think that is exactly the right thing for us to do.”
The Scottish Conservatives’ health spokesman, Donald Cameron MSP, accused the Health Secretary of confusing “mass centres” by branding them “community sites”.
He said: “The SNP’s sluggish Covid-19 vaccine rollout is still making minimal progress.
“Last week the SNP fell behind and this week’s figures show they’re struggling to pick up the pace.
“All the SNP’s hopes to speed up their flagging rollout seem to be pinned on the last-minute rush to get mass vaccination centre open.
“There’s no doubt mass centres will give the SNP’s rollout a shot in the arm, so to speak, but it remains to be seen if they will still be lagging behind.
“Worryingly, the health secretary couldn’t give many answers about further opening dates and, all on her own, she created confusion about what even constitutes a mass vaccination centre.”
He added: “The SNP’s spin over vaccine supply figures is tiresome.
“From the beginning, they could have published the current number of vaccines in Scotland.
“The problem has always been that the SNP published confidential future vaccine figures that could threaten Scotland and the UK’s supply of the vaccine.
“Everyone can see through their disingenuous attempt at deflection.”