HEALTHY Scots under 50 will have to be patient when it comes to the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, Scotland's national clinical director has said.

Jason Leitch said he was hopeful they will start to be vaccinated by the summer but it will depend on availability.

He said Scots may end up having to be vaccinated regularly, "a bit like a flu vaccine or a travel vaccine".

SNP Health Secretary Jeane Freeman previously said she hoped the vaccine programme would "take from December to spring next year to complete in full" but stressed there are a number of unknowns. 

Mr Leitch made the comments while answering questions from the media at the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing. 

He was asked what the target month was for all Scottish adults being vaccinated.

Mr Leitch said: "It seems to me that if we give you a season you ask for a month, if we give you a month you ask for a specific week.

"There are just too many unknowns. We don't know which vaccines will be authorised. We don't know how many of each vaccine we'll get. 

"We know how many we've bought – so one hundred million doses across the UK of the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

"So the AstraZeneca vaccine is very important to us. If that gets approved soon, rather than later, that helps us, it brings everything forward a little bit. 

"What we've said across the whole UK is that we're hoping to get to that over 50s group by the summer, and that would allow us to remove 99 per cent of the mortality of this disease.

"If everything goes well, and you get everybody vaccinated who's over 50 and those with pre-existing conditions under 50, then you get to 99% of the mortality."

He said the rollout would be "just as quick as the vaccine allows".

Mr Leitch later said the timetable for vaccinating the under 50s is the "biggest unknown", adding: "Once we get to the under 50s, we're going to need big numbers of vaccine, and that's why you can't get us to say a month or a date.

"That group will have to be more patient. 

"I would hope that that would begin in the first half of next year, all of us would, but it will depend entirely on AstraZeneca particularly getting us the vaccine. 

"There are 200 vaccines in preparation. There are three in phase three trials. 

"Many more vaccines will come along and we're hopeful that will happen in the next few months.

"Remember again, though, 99% of the mortality happens in the 50s and up, and that's the groups we're going to vaccinate as fast as we possibly can, and then the general population. 

"My final point is remember this vaccination will probably have to continue. 

"We don't know yet when your immunity starts to fade or even disappear, so it may be this becomes something for our future, a bit like a flu vaccine or a travel vaccine, and we may have to have it regularly."