HEALTH Secretary Jeane Freeman has hit out at the UK Government’s “political game” over the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

The comments came as anonymous sources in Whitehall told the Scottish Mail on Sunday that Scotland was “behind the curve”.

READ MORE: 'Game-changing' Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine to begin Scotland roll out

They’ve claimed the First Minister should try and match Boris Johnson’s target of vaccinating people in the top four priority groups - everyone over the age of 70, most clinically vulnerable, care home staff and residents, and frontline health and social care workers – by mid-February.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she would ideally want to do the same, but that she did not yet have enough certainty about the supply of the vaccine to be able to make a firm commitment.

She said this could risk "undermining people's confidence in our ability to deliver" if it was not possible to meet the timetable.

Currently, Sturgeon hopes to vaccinate everyone over the age of 50 and younger people with underlying health conditions by the start of May.

If the target is achieved, it would mean 2.7 million people – about half of the population – will have had the jab.

It would then be rolled out to the rest of the adult population.

One UK government insider told The Mail on Sunday: “We are confident vaccines can be delivered faster than over the four weeks set out by the First Minister.”

They say over- 75s and over-70s - could be vaccinated by the end of January. 

One source told the paper: “The Scottish Government will have enough to treat all four priority groups - those aged over 70 and the extremely clinically vulnerable - by the end of January. So we are confident vaccines can be delivered faster than over the four weeks set out by the First Minister.'

He added there were concerns over the “proportion of over-80s” vaccinated so far.

Taking to Twitter, Freeman hit back at the accusation. 

She tweeted: “This is deeply disappointing. Covid-19 is not a political game. For the record, to date we’ve vaccinated more proportionately than England and we’ll go as fast as supplies allow. My focus is getting the job done, not political point scoring - that doesn’t save lives.”

The row comes as the Oxford/AstraZeneca jag is rolled out across Scotland.

While some patients in the Tayside, Lothian, Orkney and Highland health boards have already received their first dose, it will, from Monday, be given out through GP practices and ­community centres across the rest of the country.

Scotland has an allocation of 533,640 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for January.

More than 110,000 people have also received the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine since it was approved in early ­December. A third Covid jab, Moderna, has now also been approved for use in the UK – though that won’t be available until the spring. 

Freeman said: “The delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is a major development for the biggest vaccination ­programme we have ever delivered.

“I would like to thank everyone involved for their continued efforts to ensure the pace of the programme continues. Next week I will update Parliament with further logistical ­detail of the vaccination programme.”

Freeman asked that eligible Scots wait to be contacted by authorities to receive the vaccine and urged those contacted to receive the inoculation to attend and make sure they also have the second dose.

“We have over 1100 vaccination sites, including over 750 GP ­practices with a growing core of over 3000 trained vaccinators to deliver the ­vaccine,” she said.

However, there been some questions over what happens after the over 80s have received their doses. 

GP practices in Scotland have said they’re unclear about their involvement in immunisations going forward.

Dr John Montgomery, lead clinician at the David Elder Medical Practice in Glasgow, told the Herald on Sunday the divergence between Scotland and England is likely to leave the public confused, and added that there is “huge willingness” among GPs to take on a bigger role.

“There’s going to be a lot of expectation from the public that they’ll be going to their GP practice to be vaccinated, but as things stand that’s not the case.

“We’ve got no information yet on what will happen when we get to the 75 to 79-year-olds, for example.

“There’s an order in which folks are going to be done, but right now there isn’t any detail about how and where it’s going to be done.

"But GPs and their teams want to have greater involvement in vaccinating their own patients in their own premises, particularly those at high risk, and are pushing hard for this."

He added: “A lot of us want to do more than the over-80s. In England it’s very much a GP-led vaccination programme but to my mind we should be involved in the shielded group. That’s an obvious one and that makes up about 4.5% of our list.

“And following on from that, the at-risk under-65s who we covered in the flu group.

“Once you’re getting down to under-50s and lower risk groups, sure you can use your football stadiums and your Louisa Jordans and get as many people as possible involved in administering it.

“But I think we need to be making plans now in Scotland, because England seems to be very clear about how it’s going to administer these programmes and, at the moment, we’re a wee bit behind the curve.”

On Wednesday it emerged that GPs in London had been told to “stand down” from routine work over the next two weeks in order to “focus on urgent care” and free up time for vaccinations.

NHS England subsequently backtracked and told doctors to carry on with routine work, but by Friday the situation in the capital was being declared a major incident with one in 20 people infected in some areas and hospitals under “immense pressure”.

Dr Lewis Morrison, chair of BMA Scotland said bulk of vaccinations in his area to be delivered "in NHS Lothian facilities – not GP practices".

He added: “In England it will be GP-delivered; in Scotland it will be more a case that GPs will help where the geography and their availability to do so enables them, and secondly their premises.

“It may be that some GP localities are involved in vaccination, but the primary responsibility for delivering it lies with the health boards. "

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “GPs have a significant role to play in delivering the vaccine - and we thank GPs for their hard work as the over-80s community roll-out begins.

“We’re moving at pace to ensure that over-80s who - alongside care home residents - are highest on the priority list, get the vaccine by the end of this month.

“We will of course be discussing with GPs and other clinicians the next phases of community vaccine roll out as we work to getting all 2.7 million over-50s vaccinated by May.”