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Crabb calls for clarity on county vaccination centre   

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PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has called for clarity on when Pembrokeshire will see its own Covid-19 vaccination centre open.

Currently, there are two vaccination centres operating in the Hywel Dda Health Board region, Carmarthen and Ceredigion, both of which are administering the Pfizer vaccine. Pembrokeshire currently has no vaccination centre and NHS staff are required to travel to Carmarthen to receive their vaccinations.

However, in response to concerns raised by constituents about the lack of local vaccinations, the Preseli MP has written to Hywel Dda Health Board’s Chief Executive. Concerns have also been raised by some frontline NHS staff about the difficulties in accessing a vaccination slot through the Health Board’s website.

 Stephen Crabb commented: “There is understandably a high level of interest among local people about the roll-out of the vaccine. As we saw earlier in the year with testing, asking people to travel to Carmarthen creates a real barrier. I have been told that Pembrokeshire must wait until the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine gets approval before a vaccination centre will open in our County. That could be weeks away.

“It isn’t at all clear why Withybush is not deemed suitable for the Pfizer vaccine when it is being used so widely now. In other parts of the country we are even seeing the Pfizer vaccine administered from GP surgeries.”

Commenting on the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine in Wales, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister, Andrew RT Davies MS, said: “A growing number of people, especially those over 80 years old, are getting concerned about when they are going to be receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, with many reporting to us that they haven’t received any information about receiving their first injection.

“The vaccination programme is stuttering into life in Wales with some real concerns around lack of access for care homes and the over 80s compared to other parts of the UK.

“To keep confidence Welsh Labour Ministers need to get a grip. Otherwise, there is a risk, given the scale of the vaccination programme, the public will lose confidence in the Welsh Government’s ability to deliver it, replicating their shambolic handling of the virus to date.”

Meanwhile, The Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales have criticised the Welsh Government for failing to provide clarity on support available to vulnerable people this winter.

In its ‘Traffic Light’ framework of lockdown restrictions, published last Monday, the Welsh Government failed to give clear guidance for those who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (formerly known as Shielding).

Instead, the document promised to publish further advice for those who are in the CEV category and simply restated the fact these people were vulnerable. Now, over a week later, many are still waiting to hear what support will be available to them.

The Welsh Government’s webpage entitled Guidance on protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from coronavirus (COVID-19) – previously known as ‘shielding’ has not been updated since November, with their FAQ page for Tier 4 restrictions stating that people do not need to shield again but offering no information about support available.

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chris Jones, once again promised the guidance would be updated, but failed to say when this would occur – only stating that it was “under discussion”.

In response, Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales have once again restated their calls for a full system of support for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people until mass rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine has been achieved.

Joseph Carter, Head of Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales, said: “It’s deeply disappointing that it’ now been over a week since the new lockdown guidance was published, but we are still yet to get any clarity from the Welsh Government about what support is being made available for vulnerable people this winter.

“Over the initial lockdown during the summer, the supported offered to those needing to shield was a vital lifeline for many. It allowed them to access priority shopping, get vital prescriptions delivered, and enabled them to stay at home instead of going to work.

“With a cold and bleak winter ahead, alongside a Wales wide lockdown and changes to the Christmas regulations, many people who were formerly shielding risk being left cut off and isolated. This is frankly unacceptable, and people deserve better.

“The Welsh Government must announce, before Christmas, what support will be offered to vulnerable people, provide clear guidance on this through both letters and online webpages, and ensure this support continues until mass rollout of the vaccine has been achieved.

“Anything less than this represents a serious neglect of vulnerable people and could put lives at risk. This cannot be allowed to happen.”

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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