NICOLA Sturgeon has admitted that Scotland’s vaccine rollout is “dipping a bit” on Sundays after the number of first doses administered yesterday was the lowest since daily figures started being published three weeks ago.

The First Minister also said that a failure to vaccinate one million people with their first dose of the vaccine by the end of January, as promised by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman in November, was down to figures being “refined” as supplies took shape.

Yesterday, only 9,628 people received their first dose of the jag in Scotland, a 58 per cent drop on Saturday's numbers – while 11,364 people were given the vaccine last Sunday.

A total of 575,897 Scots have now received their first dose – despite Scottish Secretary Alister Jack yesterday confirming the Scottish Government has had 984,000 doses made available to it.

READ MORE: Number of Scottish mass vaccination centres halved amid 'confusion'

The First Minister was asked about the problems rolling out the vaccine on Sundays at her daily coronavirus briefing – stressing she was “still getting to the bottom of that”.

She said: “It looks to me as if for some reason we are simply falling off a bit on a Sunday.

“I’m absolutely clear to the team that if that is an issue, then we obviously need to resolve that. We need to make sure we’re growing at a certain pace every single day.

“There’s an issue I’m looking into on Sundays – are we dipping a bit on Sundays and do we need to address that?”

In England, all older care home residents have been offered the first dose of the vaccination – while Ms Sturgeon confirmed 98% of all elderly care home residents north of the Border have actually received the first dose, a takeup level she labelled “extraordinary”.

The First Minister insisted that the Scottish Government is still on track to meet its targets for rolling out the vaccine. All those over the age of 70 are expected to have received their first dose by the middle of the month.

READ MORE: Edinburgh and Aberdeen mass vaccination centres swing into action

But Ms Sturgeon was asked over comments made by her Health Secretary in November that “we will be able to vaccinate around one million people” by the end of January, although Ms Freeman did caveat her comments at the time by warning that “vaccine availability and delivery schedules are yet to be confirmed”.

The First Minister said: “We’ve obviously adapted our estimates based on the flow-through of supply.

“Back then, we didn’t even have an approved vaccine. There were assumptions being made at that point that have had to be, for all countries across the UK, refined, on the basis of the actual supplies – not just the total of those supplies but the phasing of those supplies over the period.”

She added: “All countries have been working to the targets of care homes, over 80s and now over 70s and we are on track to meet those targets. We’ve done care homes more quickly than others and we are ahead of the schedule and target date we set for over 80s and now cracking on through the over 70s group as well.

“We will continue to look to pick up pace and look to address issues where we don’t think it’s going as fast as it needs to. We’re cracking on with this just as quickly as are able to do.”

Mass vaccination centres are due to open in Scotland this week, which should hopefully pick up the pace of the rollout.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross criticised yesterday's vaccine statistics, warning it was “the lowest yet”.

He said:” When we’re in a race against the virus, why are the SNP running backwards?

HeraldScotland: Scottish Conservative leader Douglas RossScottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross

“The SNP are failing to deliver a seven-day service and the First Minister seems to have no plans for getting the vaccine out to GPs faster. Nicola Sturgeon was again in denial today.

“If this sounds like Groundhog Day, it’s because the Scottish Conservatives said the same thing last week. For the second Sunday in a row, delivery has been a shambles and vaccine figures have fallen off a cliff.

“All care homes south of the border have now been offered the vaccine, so the First Minister’s primary excuse has vanished.”

READ MORE: Labour accused of 'attack on NHS staff' after call for 24/7 vaccines

Mr Ross added: “Finally opening the mass vaccination centres will help – but why are the same problems happening week after week, without being fixed?

“Targets are changing and the goalposts seem to be moving.

“The SNP’s sluggish rollout is miles behind the rest of the UK and shows no signs of catching up yet. Wales are managing to vaccinate more people than the SNP and they are a far smaller country.

“Hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses are available to the Scottish Government, ready for overnight delivery. All we need is the SNP to get their act together.”

Scottish Labour said the Scottish Government must show more ambition if it is to match the vaccine rates that other parts of the UK are achieving.  

Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie said: “The First Minister insists the Scottish Government is reaching its vaccination targets but they have set the bar too low and now we have become the UK’s underachievers on rollout rates.  

“With vaccinations slowing down, the Scottish Government needs to push ahead with a more effective plan that can speed up the pace. They must show more ambition and outline details for a full 24-hour vaccination rollout. 

“If we are in race against the virus then we’re losing that race and it is the people of Scotland who are paying the price.”