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Coronavirus

New Mass Vaccination Centre in Gorseinon targets the over 70s

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A new Mass Vaccination Centre (MVC) has opened in Swansea, which the health board says will increase the number of people being protected.

Canolfan Gorseinon Centre, which is near Aldi on Millers Drive, Gorseinon, is the third MVC in the Swansea Bay University Health Board area, following Margam Orangery and Bay Field Hospital on Fabian Way.

The initial focus of the new centre will be on vaccinating those in their late 70s in line with the Welsh Government’s ambition to protect all those in the top four vulnerable groups by the middle of next month.

The centre will be open for a limited number of days in its first week. It will then build its operation to deliver hundreds of doses a day to help safeguard the health of residents.

Senior Aircraftman Adam Greaves, from the Band of the RAF Regiment, checks on Phyllis Reece, 79, from Penllergaer, following her Covid vaccination. Adam and fellow musicians from the RAF helped set up and run the vaccination centre. (Swansea Bay NHS)

Those in their late 70s join the over 80s, who are getting their doses from GP surgeries.

Both groups are being seen in tandem – but in different places – to enable them to be protected as soon as possible.

If you are elderly but haven’t heard anything yet, please be patient – you will be contacted.

Arrangements for clinically very vulnerable people are underway. Details coming soon.

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Frontline health and social care staff are also continuing to be vaccinated at the MVCs, while care home residents are being visited in their homes.

Vaccinations are being done by invitation only. People will be contacted by letter or phone when it is their turn to be given their vaccination at their surgery, where they live or at Margam, Gorseinon or Bay Field Hospital vaccination centres.

Those invited for vaccination at Canolfan Gorseinon Centre are urged not to telephone the centre itself if they need to change or cancel their appointment, but to follow the instructions in their letter.

Mary Roslyn Jones, 79, was among the first 10 people to be vaccinated on Thursday lunchtime.

Having suffered a broken back and Covid-19, Mary was thrilled to be protected.

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Mary Roslyn Jones, 79, from Gowerton, is vaccinated by nurse Julie Austin. (Swansea Bay NHS)

“It’s best to have it,” she said. “I am so glad they are doing it here and I didn’t have to go to the Bay Field Hospital.”

“It was absolutely painless and everybody has been friendly and helpful,” said Phyllis Reece, 79, who is 80 in April. “I would encourage everybody to have it done. I am really pleased.”

And despite being afraid of the injection Ieuan Thomas, 80, was “delighted” to receive the Covid vaccination. “I don’t go out much and I am very, very careful, but I think it will give me a bit more confidence.”

Welcoming the latest progress, Dr Keith Reid, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Director of Public Heath, said: “We are rolling out the vaccine as quickly and as safely as possible – as supply allows – and this new centre enables us to reach even more people in the community.

“We know there is concern that we have begun to vaccinate other age groups when some over 80s have yet to be seen. But please be reassured, no one in these other age groups is taking slots meant for older people.

“We are vaccinating these groups side by side so we can protect the most vulnerable people as quickly as possible.”

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Dr Reid added: “So far we have vaccinated more than 25,000 people across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot and that figure is rising by more than 1,000 every day.

“But it is too early for us to leave the Covid rules behind. Everyone, even those who have been vaccinated, must stick to them now. Unless you are in a support bubble, you can only mix with people in your household. Don’t meet up with friends or visit their homes. Only go out when it’s absolutely essential, wear a face covering in indoor public spaces and wash your hands regularly.”

Canolfan Centre in Gorseinon, which is run by Gorseinon Development Trust, was chosen as a mass vaccination centre after a number of potential sites were carefully scrutinised.  It was a site in Swansea which stood out as the best able to provide all the facilities needed, including accessibility, open space, car parking, size and safety considerations.

Ieuan Thomas, 80,  from Penllergaer, holds up his vaccination card (Swansea Bay NHS)

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: “The Canolfan Centre in Gorseinon is a well-known community centre in the west of Swansea. It’s a popular and very well-placed location to perform yet another vital service for residents across the city.

“These are challenging times and I want to pay tribute to council workers and all those who have helped get the MVC up and running as quickly as they have. They are making a vital contribution to getting the most vulnerable vaccinated and helping keep our communities safe.

“The Canolfan Centre will play a crucial role, with tens of thousands of doses of the vaccine set to be delivered there over the coming months. In the meantime, it is absolutely crucial that we all remain vigilant and continue to follow the public health advice on handwashing, social distancing and face coverings.”

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Allan Rudge, a trustee of the Gorseinon Development Trust, said: “The trustees, staff and the tenants of Canolfan Gorseinon Centre are pleased to have been able to make the building available to host these vaccination sessions.

“We, the trustees, are grateful for the support of Swansea Council in making this happen.”

Delivering this vital facility within a very short timescale has required multiple agencies to work closely together. Swansea Council staff undertook a range of preparatory works to ensure the centre was ready to deliver vaccinations, with support from Canolfan Centre staff, Legal Services, Education and Leisure Services, Emergency Planning and the Wellbeing and Safety team.

There are two vaccination pods within the Canolfan Centre, enabling 20 people to be vaccinated at a time. There are 10 chairs per pod. The whole process from checking in to leaving takes only around half an hour. Patients must wait 15 minutes after vaccination to ensure they are feeling well.


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Coronavirus

Face coverings retained in health and social care settings

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First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings will remain in place.

Speaking after the latest three-week review of the coronavirus regulations, the First Minister said the public health situation was improving following the recent spike in cases caused by the BA.2 sub-type of omicron.

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But Covid case rates remain high so maintaining the use of face coverings in health and care settings will help to protect to some of the most vulnerable people in society, staff and visitors.

The First Minister also urged everyone to continue to take measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus by following a set of simple steps to protect one another and keep Wales safe.

These include self-isolating if ill or testing positive for Covid-19; wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places, meeting outdoors wherever possible; keeping indoor areas well ventilated and washing hands regularly.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The pandemic isn’t over but we are seeing encouraging signs the recent high levels of infections across Wales are falling.

“There are steps we can all take to protect ourselves while coronavirus is still circulating and reduce the spread of the virus even further. This is particularly true in places where some of the most vulnerable people in society are being treated and live, which is why we will retain the legal requirement to wear face coverings in health and social care settings.

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“More generally, ensuring you are up-to-date with your Covid vaccinations and spring booster – if you are eligible – is really important. If you have Covid symptoms or test positive, please stay at home and help break the chain of transmission.

“Together, we can carry on keeping each other safe and keeping Wales safe.”

The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 26 May.

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Coronavirus

Schools’ Covid guidance aligned to businesses and other workplaces

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The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has announced that Covid-19 measures for schools in Wales will be brought into line with guidance for businesses and other organisations.

The Welsh Government has written to schools in Wales this morning to inform them of the changes.

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Since September last year, schools have applied measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus according to local circumstances, based on the Local Covid-19 infection control decision framework for schools. Schools will no longer be advised to use the framework.

The change is in line with the Welsh Government’s long-term Covid-19 transition from pandemic to endemic. The risk from coronavirus is now considered in the same context as other communicable diseases, such as flu.

The First Minister has announced that the remaining coronavirus restrictions will be removed from 9 May, if the public health situation remained stable. The changes to the guidance for schools will also come into effect from 9 May.

Schools and other education settings will continue to be advised to work with local authorities and public health advisors to ensure that measures remain appropriate and proportionate and reflect local risks and circumstances.

A checklist will be provided to support schools and settings in considering which control measures remain proportionate. Special schools will continue to follow the advice for children and young people with higher clinical risk and clinically extremely vulnerable adults.

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Speaking at the Welsh Government’s weekly press briefing, Jeremy Miles said: “In line with the wider public health guidance published at the last three-week review, we have today written to headteachers to signpost the impending changes to our advice for schools, which reflect the move from pandemic to endemic. This will ensure school guidance is more closely aligned with the rest of society.

“We all know that Covid-19 has not gone way. It remains vitally important we reduce the spread of the virus where we can – this includes, for example, following self-isolation guidance, and for education settings to continue to undertake robust risk assessments.”

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Coronavirus

Health board extends shuttle bus between Llanelli and COVID vaccination centre

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Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) has extended the free shuttle bus service between Llanelli town centre and the mass vaccination centre in Dafen to help people access their COVID-19 vaccination as easily as possible.

The shuttle bus, provided by Dolen Teifi, will continue to run between 10.30am to 4.40pm, seven days a week – with no service at 12.00pm from town or at 12.15pm from the mass vaccination centre to allow the drivers a lunch break.

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People can board the shuttle bus on the hour and at half-past the hour at Church Street, outside Llanelli Magistrates Court.

The shuttle bus will leave the mass vaccination centre quarter past and quarter to the hour, returning to the town centre and dropping passengers off opposite Llanelli library.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We need as many people as possible attending their COVID-19 vaccine appointments, or dropping in if eligible.

“This shuttle bus service is one of many additional resources and services being put in place across the Hywel Dda region to help support more people to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. I am pleased the shuttle bus service has been extended to help people reliant on public transport to access their COVID-19 vaccine.”

On 21 February 2022, the JCVI published a statement, recommending an additional spring booster.

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Strict COVID-19 safety measures are in place to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers on this service, including wearing face coverings unless medically exempt.

A maximum of 14 passengers are allowed per journey with a screen in place between driver and passengers.

The health board say that passengers should only use this service if they are fit and well on the day.

They add that before travelling without an appointment to Dafen mass vaccination centre, people should check the health board’s website for up-to-date information such as vaccine eligibility and drop-in opening times.

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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