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Calls for a vaccination centre in Pembrokeshire as Oxford Astra-Zenica vaccine approved

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THE OXFORD ASTRA-ZENECA vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, with the first doses due to be given on Monday amid rising coronavirus cases. 100 million doses, enough for 50 million people have been ordered so far.

Commenting on the announcement, Preseli MP Stephen Crabb said: “The approval of the Oxford vaccine is really excellent news and a positive step towards defeating Covid-19. It’s easier to store and transport than other vaccines and will enable a much quicker vaccine rollout.

“With 100 million doses ordered, it’s now critically important that the Welsh Government focus on vaccinating care home residents and the over 80s. Those who are most at risk from the disease need the vaccine first.

“It’s also time for the local Health Board to set up a vaccination centre in Pembrokeshire – too many people are having to travel outside of the county to be vaccinated. The Oxford vaccine’s easier storage criteria means there is no reason why Pembrokeshire can’t have its own vaccination centre.”

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Wales have been so far critical of the lack of a vaccine centre in Pembrokeshire – although it is expected that one will open in the near future, most probably at Withybush Hospital, with advertisements for staff already live.

Hywel Dda blamed logistics.

SIGNIFICANT LOGISTICAL CHALLENGES

When questioned by the Lib Dems, the Chief Executive of of Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed in a letter that the “significant logistical challenges” surrounding the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are the reason that no vaccine centre has been set up yet in Pembrokeshire.

Steven Moore wrote: “We currently have two vaccination centres, in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. Our intention is to increase the number of vaccination sites; however, this is not feasible until we are given assurance over the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine, which is anticipated to have significantly less logistical restrictions.

“We are aware and understanding of the community’s concerns surrounding when and how they will receive the vaccine. The Health Board is taking continuous guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination, and planning our activity in accordance with this.

“There are approximately 45,000 individuals to be vaccinated as part of the first two priority groups, which will take the Health Board some time to complete. Whilst we fully appreciate the public’s anxieties and eagerness to receive their vaccination, the Health Board has to be strategic in its delivery to ensure everyone is offered the vaccination in the most effective and efficient way.

“I can assure you that the Health Board will continue to communicate with its patients and the public living within our communities to ensure they are kept informed of any updates we have relating to vaccine delivery.”

Alistair Cameron, Welsh Lib Dem Senedd Candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire) said: “It is disappointing that people in Pembrokeshire who need the vaccination will still have to travel into Carmarthen or Ceredigion in order to get it until the new vaccine becomes available.

“Many will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to make such a journey.”

NO IMPACT FOR MONTHS

Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething urged people to remember the impact of the vaccine would not be seen for a few months yet.

“I would be delighted if we had population coverage by Easter, but when you think about the scale of what we need to do, I wouldn’t want to give out false hope that everything will be done and dusted by Easter,” he said.

“We understand there are high expectations and excitement at the arrival of a second vaccine. However, it will take time to reach everyone as this is not an instant fix.

“We won’t receive all the doses at once and we have to be realistic about the scale and pace of delivery when we are vaccinating the entire adult population.

“We will not see the impact of the vaccine for some months and the pressure on the NHS will continue during this winter. It is essential that we all continue to play our part and do the right thing to protect each other.”

He also reminded people of the priority list for those to be vaccinated, following calls that teachers and other emergency service staff like police should be higher up on the priority list.

VIRUS SPREADING IN PEMBROKESHIRE

Tina Roberts, Welsh Lib Dem Senedd Candidate for Preseli Pembrokeshire, added: “We know the virus is spreading around Pembrokeshire and we need to ensure that the most vulnerable people and those in front line health and care work get the vaccination as soon as possible. Everything must be done to get the vaccine delivered in Pembrokeshire.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Andrew RT Davies said: “This is incredible news during an extremely bleak time, especially as we should be enjoying the festive season. It will hopefully be a very happy new year though with this vaccine being a turning point in our fight against Covid-19, with it being able to be transported at fridge temperatures. The Welsh Government will now have no excuse not to roll out vaccinations to the most vulnerable in Wales and can now start catching-up with other parts of the UK in delivering the vaccine.

“The vaccine is one truly made by the UK, with research funded by the UK Government, developed in England and the different aspects of the vaccine being made in North Wales and Scotland.

“With the UK Government investing over £88 million into the development of the vaccine, the UK Government is making sure the vaccine is made available for free across the UK, buying the vaccines for each nation and ensuring every country gets their fair share.

“The vaccine also shows Britain at its best. Not only did people in South Wales come forward to take part in the clinical trial to get this vaccine approved, but AstraZeneca have made it clear they will not seek to make a profit whilst selling the vaccine to developing countries.

“I know many people will want to thank the scientists and everyone involved in making this vaccine and a brighter future possible.”

PRIORITISE CARE HOME RESIDENTS

A social care leader has warned of catastrophic consequences if care home residents are not given “absolute priority” in the roll-out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales, spoke out because of concerns that the vaccine might be too late in reaching uniquely vulnerable residents at a time when care homes across Wales were at crisis point and the spread of the virus was rampant.

The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine – enough to vaccinate 50 million people. Wales is part of the UK procurement scheme, meaning it will get a population share of the jab from the UK Government. England’s health secretary, products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK.

Mr Kreft said: “It’s clearly fantastic news that the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has been approved but it’s vitally important that it is rolled out very quickly because were are now in a desperate race against time, especially since this new super-strain of Covid-19 is so highly infectious and out of control, with community transmission rampant.

“Every care home manager will have everything crossed that the vaccine reaches their residents before the virus. There is great trepidation in the social care sector that it might not come soon enough.

“Residents in all care homes should be given absolute priority – along with the staff who provide care for them. Because of their age and infirmity, our vulnerable residents are uniquely at risk from this deadly virus.

“All residents and staff in care homes need to be vaccinated immediately – even in homes where they have had cases. Wherever they can be vaccinated safely they should be.

“If we fail to urgently protect care home residents we will be faced with catastrophic consequences. This really is a matter of life or death.

“The situation could not be more urgent because this new mutant strain of the virus is even more dangerous because of its frightening ability to spread so quickly .

“In the meantime, I am appealing to people across Wales to adhere to the hugely important safety protocols, including social distancing, wearing masks and frequent handwashing.

“This is a civic responsibility. We will only suppress this virus and get back to some kind of normality when approximately 80 per cent of the population are vaccinated, otherwise we will never get rid of it.

“The sector is facing unprecedented pressure. We are in a perfect storm because of the risk of transmission by asymptomatic staff at a time when many staff are isolating and agency staff are hard to come by to provide cover. Many care homes throughout Wales are at crisis point.

“It may well be that Christmas has turbo charged this virus and the exponential growth of community transmission is the greatest threat of all at the moment and this is something we must suppress, otherwise the vaccine will come too late for many people.

“Everybody in social care have worked unbelievably hard for the past 10 months and now the vaccine is within our grasp – we just need a final push to get over the line.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Very pleased that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been given the go-ahead. Over 25,000 vaccines have already been administered in Wales and this second vaccine will start to be rolled out here in the New Year.”

(Pic: Nicola Drake, an A&E consultant, receives the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine earlier in December 2020)

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Pembrokeshire residents can quickly check symptoms for variety of conditions on NHS 111 Wales online

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NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker can save Pembrokeshire patients time by helping them find the right NHS service for treatment. Symptoms can be quickly checked for a variety of conditions and advice given on the best way to treat them by visiting www.111.wales.nhs.uk which is hosted by the Welsh Ambulance Service.

The way we access NHS services has changed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with more options now becoming increasingly utilised, including the NHS 111 Wales online service which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be used for both health information and advice and to access urgent primary care in Welsh and English.

In a recent YouGov survey, a third of Pembrokeshire residents had not even heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker and only 19% had used it during the past 12 months.

Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are asking everyone to help us by reconsidering the way you access NHS services. The methods available have changed but we are still here for you. It is worth getting to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can be seen and treated quicker with your first port of call being NHS 111 Wales.”

According to the YouGov survey, carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign, only 67% of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker. However, 86% said they felt it was important to have access to the service.   

NHS 111 Wales online can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. The way it works is: You answer questions about your symptoms on the website and depending on the situation you will:

  •           Get self-care advice
  •           Be told how to get any medicine you need
  •           Find out what local service can help you
  •           Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  •           Get a face-to-face appointment if you need one
  •           Be given an arrival time if you need to go to A&E – this might mean you spend less time in A&E

For those who don’t have confidence going online to seek advice, there is the NHS 111 Wales phone service. This is also a free service where patients can contact the NHS by dialling 111 to receive advice on the best way to manage their issue or gain further assistance if needed. The bilingual telephone service is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Eighty-four percent of Pembrokeshire residents had heard of the NHS 111 Wales phone service when asked for the recent YouGov survey but only 20% had used the telephone service during the last 12 months.

 

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Trial date for son accused of killing mum

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THE SON of Judith Rhead, 68, who was found dead in her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock on Feb 20 will now appear in Crown Court again in October.

Dale Morgan, 43, said to be a scout master, appeared in court only to confirm his name, date of birth and address – which was listed as Honeyborough Green, Neyland.

A plea and trial preparation hearing date was set for March 26 with a provisional trial date set for October 4.

He was remanded in custody.

In court papers it stated that the alleged murder took place between December 10, 2020 and February 21, 2021.

The paperwork demonstrates that the police are unsure of the exact date that Ms Rhead died. The large date range, two months, points to the likelihood that this will be a challenging case for all those involved.

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Launch of Haverfordwest Castle Conservation Management Plan

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MEMBERS of the public are being asked to help shape the future of Haverfordwest Castle as a draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is launched.

One of Pembrokeshire’s most important historical assets, the Castle is owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, which has produced the CMP.

The plan:

▪ sets out the significance of the castle and describes how the building will be protected with any new use, alteration, repair or management; 

▪ will help with the planning of maintenance, conservation and repair work and adaptation of the site to meet new or changing uses; 

▪ will help promote understanding of the site and look at improving public access and activities for local people and visitors; 

▪ will support proposals to conserve the castle and adaptations of the site in response to climate change; 

▪ and underpin funding applications to support improvements

An engagement exercise has been launched alongside the Plan, giving members of the public with an interest in the historic and/or environmental significance of the castle an opportunity to comment on the document and share their views.

To take part in the engagement exercise, please click on the following link: 

https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/regeneration-communities

The deadline for responses is Sunday, March 28, 2021.

 

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