Army to set up 80 Covid vaccine centres in Scotland

The British Army is setting up 80 new Covid-19 vaccine centres across Scotland from today, it has been revealed.

Nearly 100 soldiers, mainly from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, are being deployed by the British Army to help set up 80 new vaccination centres across Scotland

The move is part of the largest peacetime resilience operation ever undertaken by the UK armed forces.

Nearly 100 soldiers, mainly from the Leuchars-based Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, will help health services to deliver the rollout of jabs over the next 28 days.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The troops will be split into 11 teams to support the Scottish Government, NHS Scotland and local councils, before handing the new centres over to health workers to deliver the vaccination programme.

A military team from Fife, including personnel from the Royal Army Medical Corps, has already begun assessing proposed sites to check their suitability.

Locations in Lanarkshire are currently being considered.

The soldiers will then organise car parking and traffic flow systems, establish patient recording methods, facilitate vaccine deliveries and prepare storage for medicines and equipment at the hubs.

The move has been welcomed by UK and Scottish ministers.

Troops will help with logistics, such as car parking, vaccine delivery and storage and patient recording facilities

Scottish secretary Alister Jack said: “For us all, vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’m very pleased that the expertise of the British armed forces is helping the Scottish government get vaccines into arms as quickly as possible.

“The UK government is supplying and paying for vaccines for the whole of the UK – it is now vital that these doses are administered as soon as possible.”

Defence secretary Ben Wallace said: “The armed forces are operating across the length and breadth of the country, using their unique skillset to ensure the vaccine reaches the very finger-tips of the United Kingdom.

“Our work supporting the new vaccine sites in Scotland complements the extensive preparation and planning the military are already conducting to support the vaccine rollout programme.

“Using the logistical expertise of military personnel, honed in war zones around the world, frees up NHS Scotland and local authorities to continue to focus on administering the initial 900,000 doses provided to Scotland by the UK government in January.”

Scotland’s health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “This is the largest mass vaccination programme Scotland has ever undertaken and I am very grateful to the armed forces for their support to help us meet the significant logistical challenges involved, and ensure that by the time sufficient vaccination supplies are in place we have the facility to deliver around 400,000 doses per week by the end of February.

“Vaccination is a vital tool in our work to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level in Scotland but other measures, including testing, remain absolutely vital, which is why it is so essential people continue to follow the restrictions currently in place while vaccine delivery is rolled out across the country.”

UK health secretary Matt Hancock added: “Our vaccination programme covers all parts of the UK and I’m proud the armed forces are supporting the largest rollout in our country’s history“We have already vaccinated more than 3.5 million people across the UK and this is rapidly increasing every day as more vaccine sites open.”

UK military support to the Scottish authorities is commanded and controlled by the 20-strong Joint Military Command in Stirling.

There are a further 32 UK military planners working in support of the Scottish Government and the nation’s 14 health boards.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven’t already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription. Visit https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.