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Coronavirus

Essential international travel made possible by vaccination certificate

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Swansea Council’s contact tracing and IT teams are making it possible for Welsh people who have an essential reason to travel internationally to get vaccination certificates in time for their trip.

The teams have worked in close partnership with Welsh Government and Digital Health and Care Wales, setting-up the service from scratch in just over a week and already over 5,000 certificates have been issued to travellers who have needed to travel.

Thanks to the new service people have been able to travel for medical and compassionate reasons or, when travel’s been necessary, to countries where it’s mandatory to have proof of vaccination.

The service is being provided by a team of 40 Swansea council staff, most of them working from home, and so far more than 90% of applicants have been able to get their vaccination certificates.

Staff from Swansea Council’s Test Trace Protect team are operating the All-Wales vaccination certificates service (Image: Swansea Council)

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: “We’ve been working for the people of Swansea throughout the pandemic, providing critical services at vital times to tens of thousands of people in our communities.

“Now our expertise in hosting one of the largest contact tracing service in Wales is being used to support people from across Wales needing to make an essential trip abroad but had to have a vaccination certificate to do so.

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“We’re very pleased to be supporting the Welsh Government and travellers up and down the country so they can safely get to their destinations.

“The fact we were able to set up the service within eight days of being asked to do so is a testimony to the expertise, flexibility and dedication of our local authority staff.”

Swansea Council runs one of the largest Test Trace Protect (TTP) service in Wales, covering the whole of the Swansea Bay health board region.

Officers were confident that with the skills and expertise of council staff that it could take on the additional work on top of its essential role in tracing close contacts of people who have tested positive for the virus.

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Since going live on 24 May, Swansea’s bilingual team has been providing a vaccination certification service for the whole of Wales.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “This is a great example of a council creating a service from scratch in an extremely short space of time. I also want to thank Digital Health and Care Wales and everyone involved for their efforts.”

Swansea Council’s TTP Manager, Hywel Lewis said: “It’s a credit to the staff from across the council who have come together to help make the launch of this service a success. To go from a standing start to a fully operational all-Wales service in such a short time is a testament to their flexibility and dedication.”

People living in Wales can request a certificate only if:

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  • They have had both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (they should wait five days after their second dose before requesting it)
  • They urgently need to travel to a country which requires vaccine certification
  • They are not able to either quarantine or provide tests to meet country entry requirements.

Mandatory quarantine is in place for all people returning to the UK from countries on the amber and red lists. All people returning from overseas travel must have a PCR test. People traveling overseas must also follow the rules of the countries they plan to visit.

People can call 0300 303 5667 to request a vaccination certificate for urgent international travel only.


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Coronavirus

Calls intensify for First Minister to announce Wales specific Covid-19 enquiry

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Welsh Conservatives have repeated the call for a Wales-specific Covid-19 inquiry.

On behalf of the Senedd Conservatives, Paul Davies MS challenged the First Minister over his refusal to hold a Welsh specific inquiry and denying victims’ families the answers they deserve.

The questioning from the Welsh Conservatives follows a tweet from Mark Drakeford which provoked an emotive response from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice-Cymru group.

Following a summit yesterday between the British Prime Minister and leaders of the devolved administrations, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted:

Later, the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice-Cymru tweeted:

Taking up the issue on behalf of the families in the Senedd, Mr Davies said: “There is no reason why the Welsh Government can’t take part in a UK-wide inquiry and a Welsh inquiry. An open and transparent Government must be accountable to the people it serves, and the people of Wales deserve answers.

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 “An open and transparent Government must be accountable to the people it serves, and the people of Wales deserve answers. ‘Responsible, but not held responsible’ seems to be the mantra of this Welsh Labour Government. Now, organisations like the bereaved families group, Medics 4 Mask Up Wales and the British Lung Foundation have all joined calls for a Welsh inquiry.

 “It’s time for your government to do the right thing and commit to that inquiry. A Welsh inquiry is a necessary part in helping the country understand how decisions were made and whether lessons have indeed been learnt.”

Speaking outside the chamber, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Economy, Paul Davies MS said:“Welsh Conservatives have always said a Wales-specific inquiry, alongside a UK investigation, is essential in delivering justice for those affected by coronavirus and lockdowns.

“Throughout the pandemic we were told that different decisions would be taken in Wales to meet our specific circumstances, and now we need a specific public inquiry to scrutinise these decisions.

“Sadly, Wales has the highest Covid death rate in the UK and over 8,000 people have tragically died during the pandemic, a quarter of whom acquired the infection in hospital.

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“The grieving families deserve answers, and full, independent scrutiny of the decisions taken by Labour ministers and Wales should get the transparency, accountability, and scrutiny that every democracy needs to thrive.

“Regrettably, responsible but not held responsible seems to be the mantra of this Labour administration.”

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Coronavirus

Health board using converted shipping containers as ‘local vaccination centres’

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Swansea Bay University Health Board say they are making it easier for older people to get their Covid-19 booster vaccinations with the use of converted shipping containers.

Three containers, known as Local Vaccination Centres (LVCs), have been located in communities across the Swansea Bay area for those who may find it difficult to get to a mass vaccination centre.

The containers build on the success and experience of the Immbulance, the health board’s mobile vaccination unit.

And they are able to free up the Immbulance to be deployed to cover new areas.

The units can be located in one place for several days and include staff facilities, which means they can stay there longer and don’t have to be driven away each night and be brought back the following morning.

Staff are providing Covid booster vaccinations for those with an appointment only and aim to deliver 60 jabs every day.

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People can then wait the usual 15-minutes after a vaccination either in their cars or in the container itself.

One of the units has been placed in Seven Sisters Rugby Club car park to serve those in the Dulais Valley and neighbouring communities.

Another of the LVCs has been placed near the Guildhall in Swansea, which has proven to be a popular location for the Immbulance.

James Ruggiero, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Assistant Head of Operational Planning for the vaccination programme, said: “This project is part of our ongoing effort to increase access to vaccinations across the Swansea Bay area. 

“These units are helping us in our aim to get as many people vaccinated as possible, particularly those who may have difficulty in travelling to our mass vaccination centres.”

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Lead image: Matthew Armstrong, immuniser; Andrea Howells, clinical supervisor; Ian Worthing, immuniser (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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People with weakened immune systems eligible for third primary Covid-19 vaccine urged to come forward

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People aged 12 and over living in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire with severely weakened immune systems at the time of their first and/or second COVID-19 vaccines are being asked to contact the health board to request a third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The third primary dose is not the same as the booster vaccinations currently being rolled out at mass vaccination centres.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “If your immune system was severely weakened due to an underlying health condition or medical treatment, you may not have made a good immune response to the first two doses of COVID-19 vaccination.

“A third primary dose of the vaccine will improve your levels of immunity to give you better protection and should be given at least eight weeks after the second dose, but timing will depend on any treatment you may be having. A booster vaccination may also be needed at a later date.

“If you live in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire and believe you are eligible for a third primary vaccine dose but have not been contacted yet, we are asking for you to get in touch with us as soon as possible.”

People eligible for a third primary Covid-19 vaccination dose are urged to complete an online form on the health board’s website.

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Those waiting for a Covid-19 vaccination booster are asked not to contact the health board yet, as they will be sent an invitation to attend a mass vaccination centre.

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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