Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
As we enter a new phase of our pandemic response, it seems timely to take stock and establish our plans for the future of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Today I am publishing our updated Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy, which sets out how the vaccination programme will continue to protect the most vulnerable people and keep Wales safe.
Vaccination continues to be at the cornerstone of our response to the pandemic and will be a key part of how we are able to live, long-term, with the virus.
In moving away from the initial emergency response to the pandemic and roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, towards a more business-as-usual approach, we will continue to be led 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 updated Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy, which I am publishing today, sets out the main areas of focus for 2022.
The strategy covers:
- The current campaigns, including those advised by the JCVI during the last week – vaccination for five to 11-year-olds and a spring booster for the most vulnerable adults
- The most likely scenarios, which health boards have been asked to plan for throughout the remainder of 2022, including “surging” capacity should we again need to step-up our response in the event of a future pandemic wave or new variant of concern
- Plans to integrate the Covid-19 vaccination programme with existing vaccination programmes through the development of a new National Immunisation Framework for Wales.
The underpinning priority of the vaccination programme continues to be protecting the elderly, vulnerable and those at greatest clinical risk. This includes rolling-out the offer of a spring second booster to the most vulnerable, in line with recent JCVI advice.
Some of the other aims and priorities outlined in the new strategy include:
- A continued focus on “no one left behind”, with a pledge to ensure that accessibility is not a factor which influences take up
- Health boards are and will continue to offer a bespoke vaccination service to their local communities
- We will work with Public Health Wales and NHS Wales to make sure vaccination information is easily available and tailored by age and circumstance
- Our online rebooking service will provide a convenient way for people to reschedule appointments.
The National Immunisation Framework will help us to realise our ambition of delivering world-leading outcomes in vaccine preventable diseases. It will cover all of Wales’ vaccination programmes, including Covid-19 and seasonal flu. It will encourage high levels of uptake, reduce mortality, ensure equity of access and opportunity, develop effective deployment approaches and provide value for money.
We have learnt so much during the pandemic and we need to harness this learning for the future. We have a responsibility to ensure vaccination and immunisation services are fit for purpose and fit for the future, including ensuring they are sufficiently resilient to cope with future outbreaks or major incidents.
Health and social care workers continue to provide an exceptional service to the people throughout Wales. The NHS will need to continue to respond promptly and effectively, as it has done throughout the pandemic, proving it has the agility and flexibility, as well as the highly skilled and experienced workforce necessary to continue to successfully deliver our vaccination programme.
Our message remains, take up your offer of a vaccine and check your local health board website for advice.
We have weathered the storm this far, let’s keep on keeping Wales safe, together.
I will publish the next Vaccination Update in two weeks’ time.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.