Coronavirus in Scotland: New army support for vaccine rollout 'nothing to do with' offer from UK Government

The announcement on Wednesday of further military involvement in the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Scotland is “nothing to do with” an offer of support made by the UK Government the previous day, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

A further 81 military personnel have been deployed to Scotland to work on the rollout from Thursday, bringing the total number of those involved – primarily from the army – to over 200.

Military medics will be charged with administering vaccines for the first time in Scotland, a practice which is already in place in England.

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It comes after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack wrote to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday to offer “any support or assistance we can give you” from the UK Government to the Scottish Government in order to speed up the vaccination rollout.

Derek Fraser from Edinburgh receives an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military doctor Captain Robert Reid from 3 Medical Regiment who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.

When asked if the new measure announced on Wednesday was related to the letter, Ms Sturgeon said it had “nothing to do with it”.

She said a request had been made for further military assistance in Scotland on January 23, and that it had been agreed on January 29.

"We made a request for some quite limited but important military assistance for the vaccination programme,” she said.

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The vaccine facility sign at the Royal Highland Show ground in Edinburgh.

"It’s got nothing to do with the letter from Alister Jack. That letter came to me earlier this week, the request actually went in on January 23, it was agreed on January 29.

"Military personnel as part of that request are starting work now. They are likely to be involved for quite a limited period. They are involved in some of the logistics of the mass vaccination centre establishment and some very limited vaccination support as well.

"We are really grateful for that.”

She reiterated a point made in parliament on Wednesday that the military support is “not a favour” from the UK Government, as the Armed Forces are paid for by taxpayers from all four nations.

She told MSPs: “Any help that the armed forces give to Scotland… it’s not a favour from the Secretary of State for Scotland – it’s our armed forces that the people of Scotland pay for through their taxes.”

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