THE rollout of the Covid vaccination programme should rightly be seen as one the biggest success stories of the pandemic, for both Scotland and the UK.

Uptake has far exceeded expectations and already half of elderly residents in care homes in Scotland have had their second, booster jag.

Its effects are already playing out in terms of falling death rates and hospitalisations among the oldest Scots, with deaths among the over 85s down 56% since January, faster than for any other age group.

As this pattern was not seen during the first lockdown it is most likely linked to vaccines, and not to a reduction in the circulation of the virus brought about by restrictions.

READ MORE: NHS bosses told to offer staff access to vaccinator shifts 'on same basis' amid pay row

A Public Health Scotland study found that vaccination was associated with an 81% reduction in hospitalisation for the over-80s and already the number of people occupying a hospital bed in Scotland with recently diagnosed Covid has fallen to 726, a low that was not expected to be reached for another month.

HeraldScotland: The UK has vaccinated 32% of the population with at least one dose; only Israel and the Unit Arab Emirates are aheadThe UK has vaccinated 32% of the population with at least one dose; only Israel and the Unit Arab Emirates are ahead

Further cause for optimism comes from increasing evidence, in the UK and worldwide, that the vaccines are also preventing people from becoming infected at all, thus curbing transmission.

But not for the first time, vaccinator policy is in the spotlight.

We have gone from fears that excessive red tape around vaccinator training would lead to shortages, to a situation where some of those who returned from retirement are getting barely any shifts.

READ MORE: Warning over 'ridiculous' bureaucracy of vaccinator training 

Nurses with decades of experience are being paid a fifth of the rates of optometrist vaccinators who may never before have given injections.

Tensions have, predictably, emerged.

Meanwhile, some pharmacists have seen their regular locum supply evaporate.

READ MORE: 'It shouldn't be a money train' - Nurses' anger over HR email warning about 'attitudes' amid pay row

The latest memo addresses pharmacy, but creates new divides with locum optometrists and dentists continuing to get £230 per session, while locum pharmacists do not.

Nurse vaccinator pay could also vary - but none will get £66-an-hour.