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Provides updated information about the COVID-19 vaccination programme up to 11 January 2022.

First published:
11 January 2022
Last updated:

Introduction

What’s new over recess?

It has been a busy few weeks over recess in the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme. JCVI made two announcements and we achieved our aim of offering a booster to all eligible adults by the end of December 2021. 

On 17 December, based on data about safety, together with the increased risk from COVID-19, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that pregnant women should be considered as a clinical risk group and prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination. For any mother to be, getting their first, second and booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most important things they can do to protect themselves and their unborn baby against coronavirus. We strongly encourage all mothers to contact their health boards to make an appointment to have their COVID-19 vaccine if they have not yet been vaccinated or are due a booster.

There is further information about the COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy available from Public Health Wales: COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy - Public Health Wales (nhs.wales) 

On 22 December, following discussion and consideration of the evidence, the JCVI made two recommendations to expand the COVID-19 vaccination programme for children and young people.  

Firstly, the JCVI has recommended children aged 5 to 11, who are in an 'at-risk' group or are the household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed should be offered two 10 micrograms doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with an interval of eight weeks between the first and second doses. The minimum interval between any vaccine dose and recent COVID-19 infection should be 28 days. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty®) vaccine in younger children.

The JCVI considers the balance of potential benefits and harms is in favour of vaccination for this group. The JCVI has not yet advised whether children aged 5 to 11, who are not in an 'at-risk' category should receive vaccination until more information and evidence is available.

Secondly, the JCVI has recommended offering a COVID-19 booster dose to:

  • All children and young people aged 16 to 17 years
  • Children and young people aged 12 to 15 who are in a clinical risk group or who are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed
  • Children and young people aged 12 to 17 years who are severely immuno-compromised and who have had a third primary dose.

The booster dose should be offered no sooner than three months after completion of their primary course. 

Appropriate information about the potential benefits and risks of vaccination will be made available for children and young people, parents and guardians to make an informed decision on vaccination. 

NHS Wales will identify eligible 5 to 11-year-olds in the 'at risk' groups and begin offering appointments later this month, and under 18s who are eligible for a booster dose will receive an appointment when they become eligible.

Before recess we began urgent efforts to accelerate our COVID-19 booster vaccination programme in response to the Omicron variant. We achieved our aim, and all health boards in Wales confirmed they offered all eligible adults a booster appointment by 31 December. Offers were made to anyone eligible through a range of methods including letters, texts, online booking and walk-in options.

Nobody will be left behind, and anyone who wants to take up the offer of a booster, first or second dose can still do so. Health boards are following up on anyone who has not been able to take up their offer a booster and walk-in sessions are available across Wales.

If it has been three months since your second dose and you do not believe you have received a letter, call or text about a booster appointment, please contact your local health board. They also have details of walk-in sessions on their website and what to do if you think you have been missed.

Vaccine effectiveness

The vaccines are effective and provide protection against severe disease. On 7 January, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published a statement which included information about the booster programme and the Omicron variant. They also cited evidence which indicated that the booster programme has provided high levels of protection against severe disease from COVID-19 (both Delta and Omicron variants) across the population.

The JCVI recently reviewed the potential health benefits of an immediate additional booster dose for the most vulnerable in response to the current Omicron wave. Though at this time, JCVI advised that the priority for the COVID-19 booster programme remains increasing coverage of the first booster dose across the adult population and stressed the importance of unvaccinated individuals, especially vulnerable adults, receiving a primary course of vaccination. The JCVI will continue to monitor the booster programme and keep under review the possibility of whether second boosters are needed.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) publishes updated Omicron hospitalisation and vaccine efficacy analysis. Protection against hospitalisation from vaccines is good against the Omicron variant. Their analysis found that the risk of presentation to emergency care or hospital admission with Omicron was approximately half of that for Delta. Their analysis also found that the risk of hospitalisation is lower for Omicron cases with symptomatic or asymptomatic infection after 2 and 3 doses of vaccine, with an 81% reduction in the risk of hospitalisation after 3 doses compared to unvaccinated Omicron cases. This shows the importance of doing the right thing, coming forward for your COVID-19 vaccination and getting the full course available, including your booster dose. 

Our Technical Advisory Cell also publishes information and advice on coronavirus.

COVID-19 vaccination status 

From 11 October, the COVID Pass is compulsory for everyone attending:

  • nightclubs and similar venues
  • indoor non-seated events for more than 500 people. This would include conventions and concerts
  • outdoor non-seated events for more than 4,000 people
  • any setting or event for more than 10,000 people, such as a rugby or football match

As of 15 November, the COVID Pass is also needed to attend:

  • Cinemas
  • Theatres
  • Concert halls

The COVID Pass confirms your vaccination status or that you have had a negative lateral flow test result within the past 24 hours. If you are registered with a GP in the UK, were vaccinated in Wales or England and are aged 16 or over, you can get a digital NHS COVID Pass.

Guidance to stakeholders can be found using the following link: https://gov.wales/covid-pass-guidance-businesses-and-events-html#section-81928

To access the COVID Pass using a smart phone, a computer or laptop use the following link https://covid-status.service.nhsx.nhs.uk/

Further information and guidance will be made available by the Welsh Government in the near future. The current guidance on accessing the COVID Pass can be found at: https://gov.wales/get-nhs-covid-pass-show-your-vaccination-status-travel

Who is currently getting vaccinated?

We are administering vaccination as follows:

  • First and second doses for everyone aged 12 and over so that no one is left behind
  • Third primary and booster doses for the severely immunosuppressed
  • Booster doses for those who are eligible 

Summary of our overall progress:

  • In total more than 6.6 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in Wales
  • More than 2.49 million people have had a first dose and more than 2.32 million people have received their full course of vaccine
  • 73% of adults aged 18 to 29 and 75.5% of adults aged 30 to 39 have received their second dose
  • 78.5% of 16 and 17 year olds have received their initial dose and 59.6% of 12 to 15 year olds have received a first dose
  • More than 52,300 people who are severely immunosuppressed have received their third primary dose
  • More than 1.7 million people have received a booster
  • 64.7% of people in Wales aged 12+ have received a booster or third dose, this figure does not take into account that not everyone will be eligible for a booster at this time, for example due to not being in an eligible cohort, because the interval between second dose and booster is less than three months or because of recent prior infection with COVID
  • 88% of care home residents, 74% of care home staff and more than 83% of people over 50 have received a booster

Further information

Public Health Wales has FAQs about the vaccine and safety. They also publish daily and weekly surveillance data releases.

Help on how to get your vaccination is available here: Get your COVID-19 vaccination

A range of information on our vaccination programme is available on our website, including guidance published relating to the priority groups. 

Welsh Government statisticians are also publishing some of the more operational statistics attached to the programme each week.