Clinicians are warning health services could be overwhelmed by any surge in coronavirus cases after restrictions were temporarily eased over Christmas.
The Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties also said the new faster spreading strain of the virus could create a “perfect storm”.
They warned it could take months for vaccinations to alleviate pressure on the “severely stretched” system.
They have called for “every possible measure” to halt the virus.
The organisation, which includes anaesthetists, GPs and surgeons, said the short term situation for the NHS remained “bleak”, despite hope from the vaccine.
The warning comes a day after the Scottish government put mainland Scotland into level four restrictions in response to the new more transmissible strain of coronavirus.
But while reports have indicated the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could be approved within days, the medical leaders said restrictions would still be needed for some time.
In a statement they said: “We know there is hope on the horizon with the rollout of a national immunisation programme, with further vaccines likely to be approved shortly.
“However, it will take months for this to make a significant difference, and the short-term situation facing our NHS and public health services remains bleak.”
They said the NHS and social care services across Scotland were now on an emergency footing and while work had been done to reduce infection rates, the new strain of the virus would add pressure in the days and weeks ahead.
“We are gravely concerned that this could lead to the NHS being overwhelmed,” the organisation said.
They called on the public to recognise the severity of the situation and take the necessary steps to support health and social care services.
“Our general practices are exceptionally busy and our hospitals are already near capacity. We risk facing a perfect storm of challenges if we don’t take collective action now to prevent further spread of Covid-19.”
They urged the Scottish government to consider all potential measures to reduce community transmission of the virus and said it was vital the public continued to maintain social distancing and the wearing of face masks regardless of whether interactions with others took place inside or outside.