Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Last month I published our national COVID-19 vaccination strategy, which set out three key milestones:
- 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).
I am delighted that we have achieved our first milestone of offering everyone in the first four priority groups vaccination by mid-February as planned. The NHS has confirmed everyone in the first four groups has been contacted to be offered a vaccination appointment.
So far, NHS Wales has vaccinated more than;
- 48,000 residents of older people’s care homes and their staff carers;
- 161,000 over-80s;
- 118,000 NHS frontline workers; and
- 260,000 over-70s.
This is an amazing achievement and an important moment to reflect on the success of our Programme so far. I am incredibly proud of everyone who has made this possible, including all our NHS Wales colleagues, wider partners, volunteers, and everyone that has taken up the offer of this life saving vaccination.
There will, of course, be reasons why some individuals were unable to take up their offer of the vaccine and there will be some that could not be reached. We have implemented a ‘no one left behind’ policy and are actively following up individuals that have not yet had their vaccine. We are also asking anyone in groups 1-4 that has not heard about their appointment to contact their health board. Full details are available on the Welsh Government’s website.
Over the next couple of weeks we are expecting a slight reduction in the amount of vaccines received into the UK. This is a planned and expected change in supply that will affect the whole of the UK. We have factored this into our plans and it will not affect appointments or delay when individuals are due to receive their second dose. Following this expected reduction, supply is due to ramp up significantly from the beginning of March. Our infrastructure and capacity will flex over the coming weeks to respond to the amount of supply available; and will be ready to respond again to the increase in March.
Over 715,000 people have received their first dose of the vaccine in Wales. Every vaccine given to someone is a small victory against the virus and we are already looking ahead to meeting our next milestone. The hard work has only just begun but, as NHS Wales has shown, we are up to the challenge.