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Coronavirus

First vaccines given in Swansea Bay health board’s ‘Immbulance’

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Sixty-six-year-old Linda Sanders became the first person to receive an injection in a new vaccination clinic on wheels.

The Primark worker from Clase in Swansea boarded the ‘Immbulance’, which is undergoing a two-day trial run at the city’s Guildhall.

She was the first of 110 people who have been invited to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccination on the converted mobile library on Thursday and Friday.

It will venture further afield in the coming weeks.

Vaccinations on the Immbulance are by appointment only. The public are urged not to turn up unless they have been sent an invitation.

“It’s brilliant,” said Linda. “My partner was able to drive me here today and it took just 10 to 15 minutes. But if I had to go to either Gorseinon or Margam Mass Vaccination Centres, I would probably have to have two taxis.”

Second in line for a vaccine was Pauline Williams, 66, of Tonna. “It’s a really good idea because obviously you can vaccinate more people,” she said.

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Believed to be the first of its kind in Wales, the Immbulance is designed to reach those who are unable to travel to vaccination centres or GP surgeries, either because of poor transport links or mobility issues.

Left to right: Immunisation Coordinator Catherine Courts, Matron Catherine Watts, Immunisation and Vaccination Lead, Clinical Director Pharmacy Judith Vincent and Dawn Williams, Immunisation Coordinator (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

However, it is not designed for house calls. It will be parked up in a convenient location offering the vaccination by appointment to around 100 people per day when fully operational.

It’s hoped it will start to reach other areas of Swansea Bay, including more remote communities, as soon as next week.

“It’s great to see the Immbulance out there and delivering vaccines to people in the community,” said Dorothy Edwards, Covid-19 Vaccination Programme Director for Swansea Bay University Health Board.

“We know it’ll be an invaluable asset as we continue with this challenging programme and look forward to seeing where it gets to.”

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: “We’ve been working very closely with NHS colleagues to help save lives and protect people in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

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“We welcome the Immbulance which is a really innovative way to make it as easy as possible for people who cannot get to a vaccination location to get their vaccines more easily and we’re pleased we could make a contribution to helping with this crucial work.

 “Over the last year the council has helped the NHS by building the Bay hospital, by setting up eight Covid-19 mobile testing centres and two mass vaccination centres. But everyone can do their bit. When you’re invited for yours I’d urge you to have the vaccination to help keep you and others safe.”

Pauline Williams, 66, from Tonna, is vaccinated by Private Josh Morris. Far right is Pilot Officer Dominic Compton-Davies. (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Just two months ago the Immbulance was a mobile library belonging to Neath Port Talbot Council.

When it came to the end of its time in that role the council donated it to the health board and dedicated weeks to transforming it into a clinical space which would not look out of place in any hospital.

Rows of book shelves, a wooden reception desk and carpet in the six metres long by three metres wide mobile library were stripped out and replaced with clinical clean white walls, a sink, vastly improved lighting, a vaccination fridge, secure storage cupboards for on the move, easy clean flooring and curtains to divide it into cubicles.

A wheelchair lift was retained to maintain easy access and a wireless internet connection installed so patient details can be entered straight onto the immunisation database.

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Cllr Rob Jones, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “We have been working closely alongside Swansea Bay University Health Board ever since the beginning of the pandemic and were pleased to be able to convert and donate this vehicle to assist the vaccine rollout across the region.

“Instead of books this vehicle will now help to bring vaccinations to those areas further from the fixed venues and to those who may be facing mobility or accessibility issues.”

Lead image: Linda Sanders, 66, from Clase, Swansea, was vaccinated by Private Josh Morris of 4Armoured Medical Regiment. (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)


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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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