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Coronavirus

Self-referral online form for unpaid carers launched for Covid-19 vaccination

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Unpaid carers who may not be registered as an unpaid carer with their GP are being asked to come forward by completing a new online self-referral form in order to receive their Covid-19 vaccine as part of priority group 6.

Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething, has published guidance to outline who is eligible for a vaccine as part of priority group 6.  Within the guidance eligible unpaid carers are those who are the sole or primary carer of someone who is at increased risk were they to catch coronavirus.

Those clinically vulnerable to Covid-19 include children with severe neuro-disabilities, those who are designated clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), adults who have underlying health conditions and those who need care because of advanced age.

Each local health board will be making the online form available on their websites in the coming days, starting on Monday 8th March. Further details can be found here https://gov.wales/get-covid-19-vaccine-unpaid-carer

People should complete an online form with the health board in which they live or the health board area in which their GP is based.

Once the form is submitted, the health board will arrange for the information to be uploaded to the Welsh Immunisation System (WIS) and a vaccine appointment will be issued.

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Everyone within groups 5-9 will be invited for a vaccination by mid-April. Those already registered as an unpaid carer with their GP should receive an invite in the next couple of weeks and do not need to complete the online form.

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Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan, said: “The pandemic has added more challenges to unpaid carers across the country and I want to thank them for everything they are doing. 

“The guidance issued should give more clarity to those who are in priority group six and I would urge anyone who is eligible and not already registered with their GP to complete the online form. When you are invited for a vaccination I would urge you to accept in order to protect yourself and those you care for.”

“I want to thank the national care organisations who have assisted us with our guidance and the referral form and helped us to get the process right for our invaluable unpaid carers”.

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Claire Morgan, Director of Carers Wales, said: “Having put their lives on hold caring for vulnerable people, we know that many unpaid carers will feel relieved to be called for their vaccination. Carers Wales has worked with the Welsh Government on the self-identification process and urges eligible unpaid carers to complete the new online self-referral form as soon as they are able.”

Simon Hatch, Director of Carers Trust Wales commented; “We know that unpaid carers have faced many practical, emotional and financial challenges throughout the pandemic.  We are pleased that Welsh Government has listened to feedback from carers and from Carers Trust Wales in creating this form.  We want to encourage carers in Priority Group six to check the form and, if they are eligible, to receive the vaccine.”

Kate Young, Director, All Wales Forum of Parents and Carers said, “This added clarification will be welcomed by so many family carers across Wales, and we are pleased to see the feedback provided by family carers who were concerned about being eligible and receiving the vaccine has led to this form being produced as an additional resource. We encourage unpaid family carers to take a look and to complete the form if they feel they are eligible and may be missed by not being registered.”

(Lead image: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com)


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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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