Army staff deployed to aid Dumfries & Galloway vaccination programme

A member of the 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland Balaclava Company working at the mobile coronavirus testing unit run by the army in Moffat, Scottish Borders. Credit: PA

Army staff will be deployed to aid the vaccination rollout in Dumfries & Galloway, the Defence Secretary has said.

An additional 33 defence medical staff, from across all three services, will join their 57 colleagues already working as part of the Vaccine Quick Reaction Force at centres in Dumfries and Galloway and Fife.

Across Scotland a further 353 armed forces personnel will deploy on the "front line" of the Covid-19 vaccination and testing effort in Scotland.

Ben Wallace visited a vaccination centre at Forth Valley College in Stirling on Friday, where he met soldiers administering injections to the public alongside NHS staff.

A total of 466 military personnel have been deployed to help civil authorities in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.

Army personnel will also be playing a role in the coronavirus testing system, at both symptomatic and asymptomatic sites.

Mr Wallace said the Army had been involved in the response to coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

He said: "They've been here right at the very beginning, they've been in departments of the Scottish Government, the UK Government, doing planning, dealing with testing and tracing.

"We're just about to deploy a few hundred more in the testing process."

He continued: "What you see now is the end of the process, this is the front line, where people get the injection.

"But all the tail of that planning has been going on for a long time, alongside the Scottish Government, alongside NHS Scotland.

"As the vaccine has come into stock, as the demand has needed to be met, then we stand by for that ask.

"And the ask is generated by the Scottish Government."

The 98 members of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards already deployed to help set up 80 vaccine centres across Scotland will successfully complete their task on Monday, when they hand over the sites to the NHS.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: "Our fantastic British armed forces have played a key role in the fight against Covid-19 in Scotland - from co-ordinating the emergency response in the early days of the pandemic to setting up testing sites in the summer, and assisting with the first vaccination centres.

"We are grateful for all their efforts to keep us safe and help defeat the virus.

"Getting jabs into arms is essential, and I am grateful that military personnel will continue to help with Scotland's vital vaccination programme."

A total of 37,647 first dose vaccinations have now been delivered in Dumfries and Galloway – representing a vaccination for around one in every four people.