Date: Tuesday January 19, 2021 at 8:56am
The British Army is establishing 80 new COVID-19 vaccination centres across Scotland.
Ninety-eight soldiers from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and Royal Army Medical Corps are being organised into 11 Vaccination Centre Setup Teams to support NHS Scotland over the next 28 days.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack told Forces News he was "absolutely delighted" with the news.
"The vaccination is people's salvation and the rollout of it can’t be done quickly enough," he said.
"We’ve delivered over half a million vaccines up to last week into Scotland but I think we’ve less than 200,000 administered, so we need to up the pace.
"The English NHS, which has had military support as well, [was today] running at 140 vaccines a minute, now, in Scotland the number's considerably less than that and we need to bring it up to that sort of pace."
The soldiers will organise car parking and traffic flow systems, establish patient recording methods and practices, as well as allow vaccine delivery to the sites.
They will also prepare storage for medicines and equipment before handing the centres over to NHS Scotland to continue delivering the vaccination programme.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the Army's support "frees up NHS Scotland and local authorities" to focus on administering the initial 900,000 doses provided to Scotland this month.
Joint Military Command staff in Stirling are commanding the soldiers.
A further 32 military planners are working in support of the Scottish government team and across Scotland’s 14 health boards.
Mr Jack said the military will continue to do "whatever is required, whenever it is required" to help the UK battle the coronavirus pandemic.
"We have the best armed services in the world and we are very fortunate to be able to call on them in moments like this," he said.
"So many times during this pandemic the British armed services have stepped up to come to civilian life’s help, it’s been a tremendous effort. We can’t thank them enough."
Previously, the RAF helped carry out medical aero-evacuations from Shetland, Orkney and Arran in support of the Scottish Ambulance Service.
The military also provided planning advice in setting up the NHS Louisa Jordan facility in Glasgow, as well as staffing all mobile COVID-19 testing units across Scotland for much of last summer.