NICOLA Sturgeon has defended Scotland’s rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine – stressing that prioritising care home residents means "you don't do as many because it takes longer".

The Conservatives have accused the First Minister of “sitting on” around 400,000 does of the vaccine.

But by the same method, the UK Government would be doing the same with millions of doses of the jag.

The First Minister confirmed that 309,909 people have received their first dose of the vaccine – while Scotland has around 700,000 doses allocated from the UK Government which has procured the jags on a four-nations basis.

Earlier this morning, Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed the entire 700,000 allocation of vaccines “has not arrived with us” from the UK Government and is yet to be distributed.

At First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon stressed Scotland is not “lagging behind” other parts of the UK, amid accusations from Conservative Holyrood leader, Ruth Davidson, who claimed that “hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses not reaching GPs and patients quickly enough”.

READ MORE: John Swinney claims his 'hands are tied' on secret vaccine numbers

Ms Sturgeon refuted the allegations, stressing that the Scottish Government has “very deliberately focused first on elderly residents in care homes”, based on advice that “those are the people who are most vulnerable to becoming ill with and dying from Covid”.

She added: “The reason why the overall numbers are lower at this stage, because of that focus on care homes, is because it takes longer and is more labour intensive to vaccinate in care homes than in the community.”

More than 90 per cent of elderly residents in Scottish care homes have no received their first dose of the jag.

HeraldScotland: Nicola Sturgeon, speaking at First Minister's QuestionsNicola Sturgeon, speaking at First Minister's Questions

The First Minister also said that the AstraZeneca vaccine, the one being used by GPs “normally comes in packs of 100 doses”.

She added: “The shipment of supply into Scotland has not until recently delivered enough packs for all GPs to have one—we should of course remember that some GPs will require multiple packs, because their patient populations are bigger.

“The figure will be moving all the time, but, right now, 75 per cent of GP practices either have or are in the process of getting supply. That figure will never be 100 per cent, because not every GP practice is participating in vaccination.”

READ MORE: FMQs as it happened: Nicola Sturgeon defends vaccine rollout and wastage

Ms Sturgeon added that “we are working to a target of vaccinating all over-80s" and all people on the JCVI priority list “by the first week in February”.

So far, around 20 per cent of the over-80s group have been vaccinated.

But Ms Davidson stressed that the First Minister has carried out “a refinement” of original targets.

She pointed to comments made by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman on January 11 when she said: "We intend that by the end of this month, the very beginning of February,we will have vaccinated all residents in care homes and staff, all frontline health and social care workers and all those aged 80 or over."

This morning, John Swinney said: "I can confidently say to you that the commitments we have given, that the over 80s for example will all be vaccinated by the end of the first week of February, is a commitment that will be fulfilled."

The First Minister said “we refine target dates as we go along based on our developing understanding of supply”.

She added: “There is no change in that – that is what we are working to and that is what we are on track to deliver.”

Ms Davidson said: “By its own figures, which were released on January 11, the Scottish Government already had 490,000 doses sitting ready to go—a fortnight ago.

“Therefore, a fortnight ago, the Scottish Government was sitting on enough stocks to vaccinate 87.5 per cent of its target groups. It has had them for a fortnight.

“Today we hear that 309,909 people have received the vaccine, which is 55 per cent, and now the delivery date has slipped by a week. Why? Can the First Minister confirm that the stocks from two weeks ago have reached GPs?”

HeraldScotland: Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth DavidsonScottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson

But Ms Sturgeon stressed that “the majority of doses that are in Scotland are actually already in people’s arms”, adding that “the rest of them will be supplying general practices and other vaccination centres” over the next few days.

She added that even if Scotland had received all of its allocated doses form the UK Government, the same argument would mean that the UK Government “has not done 7 million vaccinations” and there “it is sitting on supplies for no reason”.

She said: “That would be the logical conclusion of that argument.

“It is about a really important and complex supply chain in which everyone is working to make sure that the vaccine gets from the manufacturers to the arms of people across the country as quickly as possible, and we have been successful in making sure that almost all of our most vulnerable care home residents have already got that first dose of vaccine.”

The Tory Holyrood leader claimed there are “hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses that have gone unused for weeks”.

She added: “The simple fact is that that is not good enough. “Vaccine is not getting to GPs as it should, over-80s are being left waiting when they should not have to and Government timescales are already slipping—sorry, being refined."

Ms Sturgeon later told interim Scottish Labour leader Jackie Baillie about 1 per cent of doses of the vaccine have been wasted so far – while plans allow for a wastage rate of 5 per cent.

Ms Baillie said a wastage rate at the weekend of 1.8 per cent meant that in real terms, “something like 5,000 doses” had been lost “when people desperately need this vaccine”.

She added: "We know that doctors and vaccinators cannot work in the dark on these issues and we cannot risk doses being thrown away because the Government guidance is slow or unclear.

"There have been reports in some health boards that vaccines have been binned because of the change of policy on second doses. Can the First Minister assure the chamber that unused vaccines that cannot be used for the priority groups can be provided as second doses for healthcare professionals, which the British Medical Association has called for?"

The First Minister said: "Many doctors and others who carry out vaccinations on the front line will be highly experienced at doing vaccination and know the issues that they have to be aware of, but that is also what the training is for.

"In recent days, I have faced questions about why the training is so bureaucratic. There have been efforts to simplify the training as far as possible, but it is important to make sure that people—particularly those who do not have recent or any experience of carrying out vaccinations—know exactly what they should do in these circumstances."