Nicola Sturgeon has said the vaccination campaign had been “a source of brightness during a really difficult month” as she used her Christmas message to urge Scots to get the jag.
In the First Minister’s address on Christmas Eve she thanked all those who were working over the festive period, and paid special tribute to the thousands of people who had been involved in the race to vaccinate people ahead of the highly infection Omicron coronavirus variant.
“The vaccination programme has been a source of brightness during a really difficult month,” she said.
“Getting vaccinated is the most important way, although certainly not the only way, in which we can all protect each other, as we get through this next phase of the pandemic.
“Vaccination is above all else a demonstration of compassion for, and solidarity with, each other.
“By continuing to show compassion and solidarity, I hope we can all enjoy the best and the safest festive period possible.”
Wishing Scots a merry Christmas, Ms Sturgeon said for many December 25 would not be a holiday at all.
“That of course includes our armed forces, our emergency services, and so many other vital services,” said the First Minister.
“And of course for many people working in care homes, and in our National Health Service, Christmas will be another working day, at the end of another incredibly hard year.
“So thank you.
“I also want to say a special thank you to the thousands of people, who have been involved in the remarkable vaccination effort in recent weeks.
“I know that many of you are working right up until Christmas Eve, and will start up again straight after Boxing Day for the run up to new year.
“I know that, even three or four weeks ago, all of us were looking forward to a fairly normal Christmas.
“I am so sorry that this year’s won’t be quite like that.
“But for many of us, because of vaccination, it will still be more much normal than last year.”
Party leaders across the political spectrum have also wished fellow Scots a merry Christmas.
Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, said with the mutant Omicron variant spreading fast “this is far from the normal Christmas that we were all hoping for even a few, short weeks ago”.
“But after last year’s long winter lockdown, we will all relish being able to spend some time with our loved ones, albeit responsibly,” he said.
Mr Ross said it was “thanks to the incredible success of the UK vaccination scheme that we are able to come together, even in a limited way”.
“So I want to thank all of you who did your bit by getting vaccinated this year and to again encourage all of you to get your booster vaccine in the coming days, if you have not yet done so,” said Mr Ross.
“And I want to thank all the vaccinators, NHS staff, the Armed Forces, the volunteers, who have done so much to get so many of us protected from the Covid virus.”
Anas Sarwar, leader of Scottish Labour, said that while Christmas was a time for celebration, coming together and hope, this year would be different.
“While many will be able to be together this year, many will still be making that difficult choice to stay apart again, putting their health and the health of their loved ones first,” he said.
“And sadly, many will be mourning the loss of someone special who isn’t with us this year.
“Christmas is a time for reflection and when we think about those less fortunate than ourselves.
“Tragically, too many children will wake up to very little or nothing this Christmas.
“Many will be sleeping rough and in temporary accommodation.
“Others will spend Christmas alone with no one to talk to or to celebrate with.
“We also think about our armed forces, doctors, nurses and all our emergency services who are working through Christmas to protect and keep us safe.”
The Scottish Labour leader paid tribute to volunteers and charities supporting the vulnerable, and added: “Over the holiday period, whilst I know it may seem difficult to see there is light at the end of the tunnel, we are getting there and we will get through this.”