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Nearly 10,000 people ‘incorrectly offered’ the spring booster vaccination in Wales

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NEARLY 10,000 people were “incorrectly identified” as eligible for spring booster vaccination in Wales, Health Minister Eluned Morgan has said.

It means that Wales has offered a vaccine to more people than the vaccines watchdog, the JCVI, initially recommended.

Eluned Morgan said that the Welsh Government would go ahead with vaccinating those who had been offered the spring booster incorrectly, despite the error.

She added that all the individuals affected are aware of the situation and we will apologise for the error. Some may have ben offered the vaccine anyway as they were in other vulnerable groups, she said.

“During the course of the spring booster campaign, a group of people have been identified incorrectly as being eligible for an additional vaccination,” Eluned Morgan said.

“This means that more people than the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) initially intended to be eligible for the booster have either received, been invited or are due to receive an invite for vaccination.

“On 16 May, health boards identified a potential discrepancy between the eligibility criteria determined by the JCVI and those presenting for vaccination. My officials became aware of this on 17 May and we have worked with the NHS Delivery Unit, health boards, Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW) and Public Health Wales to investigate the issue further.”

Eluned Morgan added that the reason for the confusion was because the eligibility criteria for the immunosuppressed group are broader for the spring booster campaign than in previous campaigns.

“To ensure all individuals meeting the broader criteria are offered a spring booster it has been necessary to create a new cohort within the Welsh Immunisation System (WIS) – this is the system used by the NHS to manage and record the vaccinations offered and administered to these individuals,” she said.

“Our investigation has concluded that in creating the new broader immunosuppressed cohort in WIS, approximately 9,500 people have been incorrectly included as being eligible for a spring booster. All those who have been incorrectly identified have been included in the clinically extremely vulnerable group of people who are eligible for antiviral and antibody treatment if they get Covid-19.

“This error can be attributed to differences in the criteria for vaccination and treatment. It is important to note that all these individuals are at high-risk of developing severe illness if they get Covid-19 and some will already have been eligible for a spring booster because they meet other eligibility criteria, for example they may be over 75 or resident in a care home for older people.

“Having carefully considered the options available and the clinical and ethical advice I have received, I have decided to honour the offer of an additional vaccination to all those who have been incorrectly identified as eligible for a spring booster vaccination.

“In doing so I want to be clear that this does not represent a decision to extend our programme beyond the eligibility criteria advised by the JCVI.”

Eluned Morgan added that they had sufficient supply of vaccine in Wales to provide additional appointments and booster vaccines and did not expect this decision to have any impact on eligibility for vaccination in the autumn.

“The group of individuals affected are among those at higher risk of severe illness if they get Covid-19 and are therefore likely to benefit from a booster vaccination,” she said.

“Of course, like any treatment, vaccination can carry a small risk of adverse events, however side effects are usually mild and self-limiting.

“In deciding to honour the offer, I have carefully considered the benefits and risks and the potential confusion and anxiety which would be caused by withdrawing the offer at this stage.

“Taking up an offer of vaccination is a choice, and those people in this group who have not yet been vaccinated will have a choice about whether to accept or decline the vaccine, supported by advice from clinicians in our vaccination centres.

“We will make sure all individuals affected are aware of the situation and we will apologise for the error. They will be assured about the benefits of receiving an additional vaccination if they have already received it and additional advice, to support their decision making, if they have not yet received it.

“A lessons learned exercise has also been started to ensure any learning from this incident can be fed back into the planning and management of future phases of, what continues to be, our excellent vaccination programme.”

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Independence Day sees Fishguard welcome 80 American visitors

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80 AMERICANS have arrived in Fishguard on their national holiday, Independence Day, as part of a month-long cruise from New York City to London.

The eight-deck Seven Seas Navigator docked in Fishguard today (Monday, July 4), allowing tourists to spend the day exploring Cardigan town and its castle.

They are currently embarking on a 30-day trip that began on June 7 in New York. They have  stopped in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, as well as Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Scotland, and Ireland.

A spokesperson from Rivers Seven Seas Cruises said: “The tour will explore the wonderfully historical Cardigan, starting at the remains of its namesake castle overlooking the River Teifi, parts of which date to the 12th century.

“An audio-visual display in the castle’s medieval north tower recounts the history of the fortification, the centuries of invasions and how the castle became the birthplace of Wales’ biggest cultural festival, the Eisteddfod.

“Be sure to browse the lovely Georgian house and gardens on the grounds before heading into downtown Cardigan to explore further on your own.

“The architectural highlights include the 19th-century Cardigan Guildhall Market, a two-story shopping venue constructed with locally quarried stone.

“The field gun at the front recognizes the 7th Earl of Cardigan, who was a commander in the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade.

“Inside the market, you will find dozens of shops with merchandise ranging from locally made clothing to traditional Welsh delicacies. There are also plenty of art galleries throughout town.”

Cardigan Councillor, Clive Davies, has said: “Cardigan Castle and the town will receive a visit of around 80 cruise passengers who have booked the Discover Cardigan tour as part of their New York to London cruise.

“I’ve provided Richard Bros Buses with Cardigan town maps, so they will have an idea of the towns layout on route to visit us as well as access to the Cardigan Town App.

“So to all our unique Cardigan shops, be sure to look out for our US visitors.”

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More than £100,000 available to local projects via Sustainable Development Fund

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Community groups are encouraged to apply for funding before the September 7 deadline.

A NEW round of grant support has opened for projects based in and around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park that reduce local carbon emissions and respond to the climate emergency.

With a funding pot of more than £100,000, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is calling on local non-profit groups to submit their applications for the Sustainable Development Fund before the September deadline.

Do you run a community building that would benefit from having solar panels or an air source heat pump? Do you want to encourage your members or visitors to use bikes and need to install a bike rack or electric bike charging point? Are you a sports club that would like to install a water fountain to reduce the need for single use plastic? Or perhaps you have an idea to minimise waste such as a community fridge or recycling initiative.

Jessica Morgan, Funding and Grants Officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority said: “If you are seeking funding for a project in Pembrokeshire that contributes towards a reduction in carbon and helps respond to the climate emergency, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund may be for you.

“Organisations are welcome to reapply if they have completed a previous Sustainable Development Fund project and can demonstrate that the work has been completed and post project evaluation submitted.

“Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications from individuals, sole traders or businesses. Any organisation that applies must be based within Pembrokeshire.”

Information about the Fund and an application form can be found at https://www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/about-the-national-park-authority/sustainable-development-fund/ – or call 01646 624800.

The deadline for applications is 12:00pm on Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

The Sustainable Development Fund consists of money allocated from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Landscapes Sustainable Places Fund.

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Warning of serious disruption on M4 and M5 today due to fuel prices protest

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POLICE have warned of “serious disruption” to drivers using the M4 and M5 on Monday 4 July due to a planned protest.

Protesters intend to block the Prince of Wales Bridge from 7am until 7pm as part of a nationwide campaign against rising fuel prices.

The protest is due to start at the M4 Magor services at junction 23A eastbound and the Clevedon Interchange at junction 20 of the M5 westbound.

It is also expected to cause disruption to the M48 Severn Bridge and the M32.

Drivers are being urged to avoid the area or plan alternative routes.

Bristol Airport has issued a warning urging travellers to allow extra time if heading to or from the airport.

Police said additional officers will be brought in to ensure the protest is carried out legally.

Drivers have been advised by Gwent Police to work from home where possible and avoid the area between 7am and 7pm, with protestors planning to block parts of the road between M4 Magor services, junction 23A eastbound, and Junction 20 of the M4 between those hours.

Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said: “Gwent Police, and Avon and Somerset Police, are working jointly with neighbouring police forces and partner agencies to ensure emergency and critical services continue and to reduce disruption to both road users and local communities, however we are preparing for serious disruption throughout the day.

“I would encourage drivers to reconsider their journey, consider working from home and avoid the area where possible.

“The right to protest under UK law must be balanced with the rights of the wider community who may be affected. We have additional officers and support in place on Monday to ensure the protest is carried out in accordance with the law.”

The planned protest is thought to have been organised by the Facebook group Fuel Price Stand Against Tax, and has attracted both criticism and support online.

The latest travel disruption comes following the closure of the Severn Bridge for a second consecutive weekend, as well as the Severn Tunnel rain line which will be out of use until July 10 due to essential work. Motorists will be unable to cross the M48 Severn Bridge until 6am on Monday as it is undergoing essential work for eight months.

The bridge was first shut last weekend as painstaking work to repair and replace corroded suspension cables began. Traffic on the bridge is likely to be very heavy on Monday due to the fuel protest.

Police have told protesters banners must be tightly secured to vehicles and nobody should be walking around on the bridge during the demonstration. Protesters will stay inside their vehicles or stand beside them.

An organiser said: “We will now only be doing it on the Prince of Wales Bridge. We have to keep in mind everyone’s safety and if we block the bridge totally and there is an emergency there would be hell. Yes it means only one bridge but [due to the amount of traffic caused] there will still be a massive impact.”

Two weeks ago one of the initial M4 bridge protest organisers Ashley Fowler said : “We’re all car enthusiasts and we have all been worried about fuel prices and when I saw the post about blocking the bridges we began talking about it. Then people started asking me to make an event so we could update each other.

“I made the event because I run a car club in Cardiff which I started on social media during the pandemic lockdowns to help people’s mental health. When we can we go out to car parks and just meet up and have a chat but during the pandemic we weren’t able to do it so I made the group.

“Now we can’t meet up so much again because of the cost of fuel. I know some of them can’t drive so much because they need to feed their kids. It’s serious. People are getting really depressed about it. One of the boys in the group has actually sold his car due to fuel price rises.”

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