Work is in progress to integrate Wales’ COVID-19 vaccination rollout with existing immunisation programmes, the Health Minister has announced.
A National Immunisation Framework is part of the Welsh Government’s updated COVID-19 vaccination strategy, published today (Thursday 24th February), which sets out our plans for 2022.
This framework is being designed and developed at pace, with the ambition of delivering world leading outcomes in vaccine preventable diseases.
It will cover all of Wales’ vaccination programmes including COVID-19 and flu and aims to encourage high levels of uptake, reduce mortality, ensure equity of access and opportunity, effective deployment and provide value for money.
To date, we have given more than 6.8m doses of COVID-19 vaccinations in Wales. More than 91 per cent of the over-12 population of Wales have been vaccinated with at least one dose; 86 per cent with at least two doses and 70 per cent with a third dose and/or a booster.
Throughout the pandemic, primary care has maintained high levels of routine vaccine protection in children under one year old maintaining uptake rates of more than 95 per cent. The school health service continues to deliver the school vaccination programme in a challenging environment.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said:
Vaccines have had an enormous impact on the course of the pandemic and have helped to weaken the link between the virus, serious illness, hospitalisations and death. They have saved countless lives and given us the freedom and confidence to restart our lives in the midst of an ongoing global health emergency.
This strategy sets out our plans for 2022 and beyond, including a commitment to deliver a regular COVID-19 vaccination programme while planning for any potential surge capacity, should we need to, in the case of a new pandemic wave or a new coronavirus variant.
I want to thank everyone who has come forward to be vaccinated and made the decision to protect themselves and others. I also want to thank the many thousands of people working in our vaccination programme including all staff and volunteers.
The strategy confirms that the elderly, vulnerable and those at greatest risk will continue to be our priority for vaccination as they have been disproportionately affected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
We continue to be guided by the latest clinical and scientific evidence and advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Wales.
The strategy also sets out how health boards have been meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in their communities and how they have ensured under-served groups, such as those from minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled people and people who live in economically disadvantaged households, have been given trusted information about vaccination.
These best practice examples will be used to shape the future of the vaccination programme in Wales.
The Health Minister has also confirmed an Autumn booster campaign for 2022, with the details to be confirmed at a later stage.
There is also confirmation that digital services for vaccination are now in place including a two-way text rescheduling service, which was launched in November, and an online rebooking service, launched in February.
The online rebooking service has been designed with the intention of having a life beyond the pandemic, to support non-COVID-19 vaccination programmes in the future.
We are also looking at how we can provide the rebooking service as part of the NHS Wales App, soon after it launches later this year.