NICOLA Sturgeon has defended Scotland’s rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine after yesterday saw the highest number yet of doses administered- amid accusations of a “postcode lottery”.

The row came as the Ministry of Defence announced that military personnel are to start helping administer the vaccine in Scotland from tomorrow.

The number of doses administered on Sunday plummeted to the lowest so far since daily records were first published three weeks ago, with only 9,628 jags received.

But the First Minister announced that a record high 38,484 vaccines were administered yesterday following the opening of mass vaccination centres in Edinburgh and Aberdeen – taking the total jabs in Scotland to 649,262.

She said: “The total figure includes 98 per cent of residents in older people’s care homes who have not just been offered the vaccine but have been vaccinated with the first dose.

“In addition, 87% of people aged over 80 living in the community have also now had the first dose. That figure is based on our original estimate of the number of over-80s but, as I said yesterday, work that is being done with health boards to refine that estimate suggests that that percentage might now be higher. I can report that, as of this morning, 28% of people aged 75 to 79 have also had the first dose.

“I thank everyone who is working across the country to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and also the public for the quite extraordinary uptake so far.”

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But the First Minister is facing accusations of a “postcode lottery” and a warning people “expect to be treated equally” in the rollout of the inoculation from the disease.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader, Ruth Davidson, said the Government has “finally accepted” the vaccine rollout north of the Border is “lagging behind the rest of the UK”.

Ms Davidson called for a health board breakdown of the number of vaccines administered to be published - warning there are risks over a "postcode lottery".

Figures show that only 10.6% of people in the Lothian area have received their first dose of the vaccine – compared to 16.6% in the Highlands and 13% in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

READ MORE: Covid Scotland: Vaccinations rise to highest daily total since programme began

Almost 19% of people on the Western isles have received the first dose of the jag.

The First Minister said she will "move to much more granular breakdowns as well as geographic breakdowns" when the data is able to be published but did not commit to a daily local authority breakdown being made available.

Interim Labour leader Jackie Baillie also raises discrepancies in different parts of the country, warning it is “the lack of information that is causing confusion out in our local communities”.

Ms Sturgeon stressed that “there are lots of people yet to vaccinate” but insisted that the new figures indicating a record number of people received the jag on Monday “shows the acceleration of the programme".

But Ms Baillie told the First Minister that people “expect to be treated equally” and not have the availability of the vaccine “determined on where they live”.

She added: "It is a race against the virus and we are not going fast enough.

"In different parts of the country, it is a postcode lottery. GPs tell me they are simply not getting enough supplies and supplies are erratic."

But the First Minister insisted that "people are not being penalised because of where they live".

She added: "There will be differences in speed because of geographies and how different health boards are organising the programme to take account of the differences between urban and rural areas and the different sizes of communities, but all health boards are making progress.

"I will be meeting the chief executives of all health boards this afternoon to make sure that they all have plans in place to allow them to make fast but steady progress through the programme, which is a matter of daily monitoring."

Ms Davidson had earlier asked Ms Sturgeon whether she will “accept further military assistance” in order for the vaccine programme to pick up pace.

HeraldScotland: Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth DavidsonConservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson

Following the call, the Ministry of Defence announced that the armed forces will administer the vaccine in Scotland for the first time as the number of military personnel increases to more than 200 supporting the rollout.

An extra 57 military personnel will be deployed to assist health boards across Scotland with the vaccine rollout alongside the 98 members of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards who are already supporting the vaccine effort.

Teams will start deploying from tomorrow with some beginning to see patients immediately, including supporting NHS Lothian by administering vaccinations at the Royal Highland Showground.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The British Armed Forces are carrying out vital work to support the rollout of vaccines across Scotland.

“Now more than 200 military personnel are helping to get needles into arms. I would like to thank all of our fantastic military personnel for their great work in helping fight the pandemic, right across the UK.”

But the First Minister stressed that the Scottish Government is “already drawing on assistance by the armed forces”, adding that her administration is “hugely grateful to them” for their help.

But she stressed that the UK Government cannot take credit for help from the armed forces.

Ms Sturgeon added: “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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“So let’s forget the suggestion that it’s somehow the UK Government doing Scotland a favour.”

Speaking after the military announcement, Ms Davidson said: “It’s fantastic news that the armed forces will be on the frontline helping to speed up the rollout in Scotland. That’s exactly the kind of shot in the arm the programme needs and it will go a long way to restoring confidence across the country.

“We always knew the number of vaccinations would rise when mass centres opened and we’re all delighted to see that’s finally happening. A big increase is to be expected just days after we hit a record low.”

She added: “The facts show we’re still far behind the rest of the UK on vaccinating over 75s and a postcode lottery is creating problems for people across Scotland.

“Nicola Sturgeon avoided answering when all mass centres would hit their 20,000 target figures. Although, we are pleased that more daily vaccine data will soon be published.”