It has been another week dominated by Coronavirus here in Swansea, but the announcement of the Welsh Government’s vaccination strategy represents an important moment in the fight against this disease, setting out how the Welsh Government plans to vaccinate our communities. The Welsh Government has worked night and day with our medical professionals to ensure we can all get the jab. I cannot thank the scientists, NHS or local volunteers enough for everything they have done to keep us safe. They are all stars that have shone through the darkest moments of the past year.
The Welsh Government announcement means that we now have a thorough plan on how we can beat the virus. The new three key milestones put in place for vaccinations will mean we all have a better understanding of when we will get the injection. I think it’s important that we get this information shared as widely as possible so that we can continue to do our bit to keep Wales safe in the meantime. So, here’s a brief rundown of how the vaccines will be rolled out.
By mid-February all care home residents and staff; frontline health and social care staff; everyone over 70 and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable will have been offered a vaccine. This will be followed by all other phase one priority groups by the spring, which includes everyone over 50 and all those at risk due to an underlying health condition. By autumn, the vaccine will have been offered to all other eligible adults in Wales, in line with any guidance issued by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). It is our hope that by September 2021 about 2.5 million people throughout Wales could be offered coronavirus vaccines.
We shouldn’t kid ourselves that this will be an easy task. NHS Wales usually vaccinates 870,000 people against seasonal flu and that takes an entire season to complete for a much smaller number of people. That is why it is important that we do all we can to support the NHS.
On top of the fabulous news that we now all know when we will get our free NHS jab, we have also learnt of how many people have already been vaccinated in Wales. As of Wednesday 13 January, 101,300 people have received the vaccine. This news should give us all a boost because it shows there is an end to this if we all keep to the rules and get the vaccine when it’s our turn..
I know that times are incredibly tough at the moment, but I hope that this vaccination timeline will give reassurance that the end of this pandemic is in sight. Vaccination figures will now be published daily in Wales, which I hope will build confidence and trust in the vaccination roll-out.
Over the coming weeks we will also see the first Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines being given by pharmacists and the number of mass vaccination centres in Wales will increase to 35, with at least one in each county. This is on top of the 100 GP practices also providing clinics by the end of this week and 14 mobile units run by community nurses who will be taking the vaccines to care homes.
People often ask ‘should I contact my GP to see when I need the jab?’ The answer is a definite no. People will be invited by the NHS – either by phone or letter – to have a vaccine at a local clinic or at one of the mass vaccination centres when it is their turn. I know how keen people are to get vaccinated, but please do wait until you are contacted. I also want to urge people to stay alert to scams which have unfortunately been brought to my attention. The NHS will never ask you to pay for a vaccine or provide your bank details.. The NHS is providing the injection for free so do not fall foul of those horrendous scammers trying to swindle people of their money or their private information.
This is all fab news, but it is important to remember that even though the vaccine is now being rolled out the virus is still very much present in our community and we must continue to follow social distancing rules, wear a face covering in all indoor public places and stay home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. As always, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – my team and I are here to help. And remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!