Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Colleagues from across the NHS in Wales have been working hard to deliver what is the largest vaccination programme in our history since the 8 December 2020.We are immensely grateful for the progress they have made so far. Thousands of people have received the vaccine in Wales, in a few short weeks, which is a terrific achievement.
The news today that the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have approved the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine means that we will have another vaccine available to protect more of the most vulnerable in our society from Covid-19, in addition to the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
Wales will receive its population share of over 100 million doses of this vaccine in the months to come. This vaccine is able to be stored at normal vaccine fridge temperatures and so is easier to deploy in the community from a practical perspective, with fewer cold storage or transportation issues. This in turn means that we can extend our programme, particularly into more Care Homes and into primary care settings. It will particularly help us to deliver vaccine at scale to Care Home residents and those older age cohorts of the population identified as being most at risk by the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Arrangements to enable involvement of primary care providers have been established in order to offer Health Boards flexibility and the potential capacity needed to deliver the vaccine. The Primary Care Covid-19 Immunisation Scheme (PCCIS) will be able to involve all primary care contractors.
The deployment of this vaccine will now commence early in January. Vaccine specific training materials will be made available to vaccinators, in accordance with the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine characteristics. As with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, people will not need to call their local hospital or GP, as they will be sent appointments when it is their turn. We look forward to further vaccine research successes in 2021 to enable us to secure a strong and stable supply of vaccine for the population of Wales.
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.