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Coronavirus

COVID-19 booster vaccine roll out begins in Wales

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Frontline NHS staff working in North Wales have become the first people in Wales to receive their Covid-19 booster vaccines, as the programme started in Wales today (Thursday 16 September).

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board began to offer its staff the booster vaccine just days after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued its final advice about the autumn booster programme.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board will begin its booster vaccination programme on Saturday, starting with care home residents.

Swansea Bay, Hywel Da, Aneurin Bevan, Cardiff and Vale and Powys health boards have all confirmed they will begin offering the booster vaccine to care home residents and healthcare staff from Monday (20th September).

Health Minister Eluned Morgan confirmed Wales has accepted the JCVI’s advice to offer all over 50s, frontline health and social care workers and people with underlying health conditions – people in priority groups one to nine – a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.  

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Booster vaccination for other adults will be considered by the JCVI at a later date.

Letters inviting 12 to 15-year-olds to have a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine will begin to be issued next week and the first vaccines are expected to be administered from 4 October.

All vaccines will be delivered either in care homes, in mass vaccination centres, hospitals or GP surgeries. People will be advised where their vaccination will take place when invited. 

Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “Wales’ vaccination programme has been world leading and we have been working with the NHS to deliver the autumn booster safely and efficiently. 

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“I would urge all those who are eligible for a booster take up the offer when they are called for an appointment, as there is the possibility of reduced immunity from their earlier doses of the vaccine as time passes.

“If you haven’t had the first dose of the vaccine yet, it’s not too late. I encourage anyone who has not yet taken up their offer to do so.”

Dr Gill Richardson, deputy chief medical officer for vaccines, said: “Today, the first doses of the booster vaccine have been provided to frontline healthcare staff who look after some of our most vulnerable people as we continue to protect individuals from the virus, serious illness and the risk of hospitalisation.

“We have already seen the benefits that come from having as many people as possible vaccinated and have been preparing for this throughout the summer.  Vaccines remain our strongest defence from the virus and to maintain the levels of immunity that people have achieved.”

People across Wales are being urged to wait until they are invited to have their booster and not to contact NHS or health services to request a Covid-19 booster vaccine.

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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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