The Army has begun giving people Covid-19 jabs at a mass vaccination centre at the Royal Highland Centre just outside Edinburgh.

A team of vaccinators from the armed forces was invited to staff the centre after NHS Lothian put the finishing touches in place and launched it on Wednesday.

Over the last two days, around 1,800 people have been given their first dose of protection against the virus.

The armed forces will provide around 20 vaccinators for up to two weeks, while more training and induction takes place, before the NHS teams switch back.

The mass vaccination centre, the third in Lothian, will be capable of vaccinating around 900 people every day, seven days a week.

Pat Wynne, director of nursing for primary and community care at NHS Lothian, said: “We are all excited to open our third vaccination centre and we are really pleased to be working so closely with our colleagues from the British armed forces.

HeraldScotland: Michael Maddocks from Edinburgh receives an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from Lance corporal (LCpl) Amy Portman, a combat medical technician from 34 Field Hospital, who is assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.Michael Maddocks from Edinburgh receives an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from Lance corporal (LCpl) Amy Portman, a combat medical technician from 34 Field Hospital, who is assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.

“The swift opening of this venue will allow us to increase our capacity across the Lothians and allow us to start vaccinating 65 to 69-year-olds sooner than we expected.

“It has taken a lot of work, but we are now seeing the delivery of this lifesaving vaccine to thousands of people across Lothian.”

The vaccination centre is in the Members’ Pavilion and has nine vaccination stations available.

It is the first of two vaccination centres planned for the Royal Highland Centre, with a second larger centre expected to become operational in March.

HeraldScotland: Michael Maddocks (left) and James Logan, both from Edinburgh, receive an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military personnel who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.Michael Maddocks (left) and James Logan, both from Edinburgh, receive an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military personnel who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The armed forces are an important part of the vaccine rollout in Scotland.

“They lift spirits and boost morale and I am delighted that they will be joining together with our marvellous healthcare workers to ensure the vaccine is delivered to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible to protect the most vulnerable.”

People aged between 75-79 and those most clinically vulnerable will continue to be given appointments to be vaccinated by their GP, while those aged between 70-74 and 65-69 are being invited into mass vaccination sites and smaller community venues for their injections.

Smaller community clinics will deliver vaccinations in the local area for people with complex needs or who, for other reasons, absolutely cannot and would not be expected to travel to a mass centre.

HeraldScotland: Lance corporal (LCpl) Amy Portman loads an injection of a coronavirus vaccine whilst assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.Lance corporal (LCpl) Amy Portman loads an injection of a coronavirus vaccine whilst assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.

HeraldScotland: Derek Fraser from Edinburgh receives an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military doctor Captain Robert Reid from 3 Medical Regiment who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.Derek Fraser from Edinburgh receives an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military doctor Captain Robert Reid from 3 Medical Regiment who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.

HeraldScotland: Derek Fraser from Edinburgh sits in the observation area after receiving an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military personnel who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021Derek Fraser from Edinburgh sits in the observation area after receiving an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military personnel who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021

HeraldScotland: James Logan (left) and Sylvia Campbell (right) receive an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military personnel who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.James Logan (left) and Sylvia Campbell (right) receive an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military personnel who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.

HeraldScotland: Military personnel, who are assisting with the vaccination programme, at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.Military personnel, who are assisting with the vaccination programme, at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.

HeraldScotland: Military personnel, who are assisting with the vaccination programme, at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.Military personnel, who are assisting with the vaccination programme, at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.

HeraldScotland: Derek Fraser from Edinburgh receives an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military doctor Captain Robert Reid from 3 Medical Regiment who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.Derek Fraser from Edinburgh receives an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military doctor Captain Robert Reid from 3 Medical Regiment who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground near Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.