MORE than two and half million Scots will receive the coronavirus vaccine by early May, the First Minister has said. 

Addressing MSPs as she outlined a slew of new restrictions in a bid to tackle rapidly rising cases, Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland was “now in a race between the vaccine and the virus”.

She said that all over-50s and those with underlying health conditions should get their first jab within the next five months. 

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The First Minister was speaking as the first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine were being rolled out across the UK. Sturgeon told Holyrood: "Our current expectation, based on assumptions about supply and the new advice on doses being administered up to 12 weeks apart, rather than three, is that by early May everyone over 50, and people under 50 with specific underlying conditions, will have received at least the first dose of vaccine.

“That is everyone who is on the [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advisory body] priority list, and comprises more than 2.5 million people.

“Once everyone on the priority list has been vaccinated, we will start vaccinating the rest of the population, and will do this in parallel with completing second doses for those on the priority list.

“Those timetables are of course heavily dependent on vaccine supply. And for that reason, they are also cautious.

“However, I have tasked our vaccination team with exploring and keeping under ongoing review all options to speed up the rate of vaccination and bring these timescales forward as far as possible.”

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82 year-old James Shaw from Dundee, was one of  the first to get the new AstraZeneca jab.

He was vaccinated at the Lochee Health and Community Care Centre in the city alongside his wife Malita, also 82.

NHS Tayside is rolling out the vaccine through GP practices in the community and will also vaccinate elderly residents and staff in care homes.

Shaw said: "My wife and I are delighted to be receiving this vaccination.

"I have asthma and bronchitis and I have been desperate to have it, so I am really pleased to be one of the first to be getting it.

"I know it takes a little while for the vaccine to work but after today I know that I will feel a bit less worried about going out.

"I will still be very careful and avoid busy places but knowing I have been vaccinated will really help me.

"All of my friends have said they are going to have the vaccine when it is their turn and I would encourage everyone who is offered this vaccination to take it."

The UK has secured access to 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, enough for most of the population.

Scotland will get a proportionate 8.2% of the jabs.