All adults in Scotland could have had their first Covid jab by the summer, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said.
The SNP minister said the vaccine programme is now “exceeding expectations” after the daily number of jabs ramped up dramatically last week.
The country is now on course to inoculate all over 70s and clinically vulnerable groups over the next week, in line with a flagship target, as well as vaccinating all over 50s by May
Ms Freeman told the BBC’s Sunday Show that the Scottish Government’s ambition was to get through all 4.5 million adults in Scotland “in the summer.”
She added: “Now, at this point, it is not very sensible to give specific dates because there are a number of unknowns, partly what the [Joint Committee on vaccines and immunisation JCVI] tells us, and partly about supplies.
“What is the case is that our infrastructure to do that is there.
“We have the vaccinators, we have the support staff, we have the local and the regional centres able to do it so we’ve just to keep going. As fast as we get supplies, we’ll be vaccinated.”
Asked to give a broad outline of when shops or pubs might open, the Health Secretary said it was impossible to give that as it wouldn’t be fair.
Ms Freeman said the Scottish Government’s priority was education, and any reopening couldn’t risk allowing kids returning to school.
“We need to learn from our previous experiences,” she said.
“And that is every time you ease the restrictions, and of course that’s what we all want, you see a rise in case numbers. So you have to have them as low as you can possibly go.”
The comments came as the Scottish Government faced criticism over its quarantine policy.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday that visitors flying in from around the world should be forced to quarantine in approved hotels.
The move was unveiled as an urgent response to the threat of mutant coronavirus variations spreading from overseas.
But the Scottish Government admitted on Saturday that it has not yet contacted any hotels or airports to discuss how or when the scheme will be implemented.
Sources within the UK Government yesterday accused the Scottish Government of failing to deliver.
One said: “Throughout the pandemic, the focus of the UK Government has been on saving lives and, as the vaccine programme gathers pace, saving livelihoods.
“The hard work of sorting out issues such as quarantine hotels has been done quietly, without the need for grandstanding.
“There does seem to be a gap between the Scottish Government rhetoric and action.”
Ms Freeman said “discussions are underway” over quarantine policy, she said: “Work is underway, discussions with the UK Government are underway.
“Deputy First Minister John Swinney said that he would update Parliament this week on where we are.”