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New Covid vaccination strategy published for Wales

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ALL eligible adults will be offered a Covid vaccine by the autumn, under ambitious plans published by the Welsh Government on Monday (Jan 11).

Health Minister Vaughan Gething published the Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy, which sets out three key milestones.

It comes as the latest figures show more than 86,000 people have received the vaccine. Wales will publish daily vaccine figures from today.

The three milestones set out in the plan are:

  • By mid-February – all care home residents and staff; frontline health and social care staff; everyone over 70 and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable will have been offered vaccination.
  • By the Spring – vaccination will have been offered to all the other phase one priority groups. This is everyone over 50 and everyone who is at-risk because they have an underlying health condition.
  • By the autumn – vaccination will have been offered to all other eligible adults in Wales, in line with any guidance issued by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
    In total, around 2.5m people throughout Wales could be offered Covid vaccines by September, depending on further advice from the JCVI.

The strategy depends on sufficient and regular supplies of the vaccines being delivered. It will be kept under review in line with supply of the vaccine and any further advice from the JCVI.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “The Covid vaccines offer our best hope of a return to the normality we are looking forward to after such a difficult year, which has turned all our lives upside down.

“Delivering this vaccination programme to the people in Wales is a huge task but an enormous amount of work is going on to make it a success.

“We are making good progress with thousands more people being vaccinated every day.

“Over the coming week we will see the programme pick up further speed with more clinics opening and the first vaccines to be given by pharmacists.”

To reach as many people as safely and as quickly as possible, we are continuing to accelerate the vaccination programme as more supplies of the two vaccines become available.

This includes:

  • The number of mass vaccination centres increasing to 35 over the coming weeks, with at least one in each county. We started with seven, five weeks ago.
  • Military support in the mass vaccination centres – there are 14 immunisers and 70 other personnel providing support.
  • 100 GP practices providing clinics by the end of this week.
  • The first pharmacies to provide the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will start vaccinating in North Wales in the next week.
  • 14 mobile units, run by community nurses, which are taking the vaccine to care homes.
  • Text message vaccination appointment reminders.

Dr Gillian Richardson, who leads the Covid vaccination programme in Wales, said: “This is the biggest vaccination programme Wales has ever seen and the NHS is working incredibly hard to get the vaccine to as many people as possible, safely and as quickly as we can.

“People will be invited to come and have a vaccination at a clinic close to their home or at one of the mass vaccination centres. I know everyone is really keen to get their jab but please wait until you are contacted for your turn.

“Vaccination will give us a path out of this pandemic but it will take us a little while to protect all the people in Wales who need it – this is why it’s so important everyone continues to take steps to protect themselves and their families from coronavirus.”

Data for the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Wales will be available every week day from today.

The daily release accounts for the total number of vaccines given until 10pm the previous day, which have been recorded on the COVID-19 Welsh Immunisation System. Actual figures will be higher due to ongoing data entry.

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire’s candidate for the upcoming Senedd elections has raised concerns over the vaccination rollout in Wales.

Welsh Conservative candidate and Pembrokeshire County Councillor Samuel Kurtz said Wales was ‘falling behind’ in the vaccine rollout following a BBC Wales report.

In the BBC Wales report it is confirmed that while the Welsh Government have received 275,000 doses of the two approved Covid-19 vaccines, only 70,000 people had received their first dose after the first month of rollout.

Senedd Candidate Samuel Kurtz feels Wales is ‘falling behind’ in the vaccine rollout (Pic S Kurtz)

Commenting on this report, Cllr Kurtz said: “A month into the vaccination rollout and the Welsh Government have yet to administer half of the vaccines they’ve received. It really does feel like Wales is falling behind.

“While Mark Drakeford may want to say the rollout is not a race, people are rightly looking towards the vaccines as a way to bring this hugely difficult chapter in our history to an end and, more importantly, to save lives.

“We’ve known for months that a mass vaccine rollout will be needed, yet it feels like the Welsh Government have been caught off guard and ill-prepared.

“I’m pleased to see local GP surgeries preparing to deliver the vaccine to their patients and urge the Welsh Government to provide them with all the support they may need to make this rollout a success.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Andrew RT Davies called for a “vaccine army,” led by a Welsh Government Vaccine Minister.

“For weeks now we have been highlighting the slow rollout of the Covid vaccine in Wales and yet still the Welsh Government dither and delay,” he said.

“Instead of getting on and actually delivering what they need to do, we just get told that we need to be patient and this isn’t a sprint.

“The Welsh Government has the vaccine doses and they have the power to get it out to the people that need it the most. They’ve been caught off guard and yet still don’t seem to be in any rush.

“We need a Government Minister to have the single job of delivering their vaccine with the full resources of the Welsh Government alongside NHS Wales, GPs, Pharmacists and anyone else that can help. We need a vaccine army, backed up by our Armed Forces, to get the job done. We cannot afford any more delay.”

In an open letter to the Health Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, health spokesperson for Plaid Cymru, also called for greater clarity on the vaccine deployment programme, in order to build public trust.

Mr ap Iorwerth raised “real concerns” over the pace, transparency and communications of the programme, and says that the public “simply want to know when they might expect the vaccine.”

He called for a dashboard of information that would allow the public to track progress for themselves, including volume of doses delivered and administered by health board and by priority group.

He said it would “go far” in helping to restore public trust.

Using examples of international good practice, Mr ap Iorwerth asks whether the Health Minister would consider measures such as:

Vaccination centres open 7 days a week

The widespread availability of drive-through style vaccination centres

Reducing wastage by allowing prepared vaccines to be given on a ‘first come first served’ basis at the end of the day.

“There are real concerns about the vaccine deployment programme, not least regarding the pace, transparency and communications during these initial stages. People simply want to know when they might expect the vaccine,” Rhun ap Iorwerth said.

“Setting out targets in Welsh Government’s vaccination plan, and including a dashboard of information which answers questions around how the numbers of doses by health board and priority group, will go far in helping to build public trust, as they will be able to track progress for themselves.

“We have a short period of weeks before the damage of strict conditions, in particular school closures, become even more significant. We also currently have a virus infecting more people every week than are receiving the vaccine. Expanding the pace and scale of vaccination is thus essential, as is restoring public confidence that governments have a plan for winning this battle against the virus.”

 

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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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