One in four people across Wales vaccinated as health minister describes each dose as a “small victory against this awful virus”
Wales’ health minister has described every vaccine administered as a “small victory against this awful virus”.
New data released by Public Health Wales shows that 784,809 people in the initial priority groups have been vaccinated since the rollout began in December 2020.
On Friday it was announced that the Welsh Government had hit its target of offering an appointment to all in the top four priority groups by mid-February.
These groups are made of the over 80s, care home staff and residents, the over 70s, healthcare workers and those who were asked to shield during the pandemic.
Speaking at the first Welsh Government press conference of the week, Health Minister Vaughan said that one in four adults in Wales have now received their first dose of a vaccine.
Work will now start on the remaining five priority groups and administering the second dose of Pfizer vaccines to those who were vaccinated at the end of 2020.
Mr Gething said: “Our vaccination teams have done a fantastic job right across Wales inviting people to come forward for their appointments as quickly as possible.
“The figures speak for themselves. We’ve now vaccinated almost 785,000 people, that is the equivalent of one in four people here in Wales.
“I would like everyone who has been working so hard over the last couple of months to achieve this. Every vaccine really is a small victory against this awful virus.
“We’ve hit our first milestone ahead of time, but we won’t rest there. We’ll keep on checking to make sure that no one is left behind.
“Take up has been incredibly high amongst the first four priority groups.
“If anyone wasn’t sure about having the vaccine when they were first asked and has now changed their mind, it’s not too late to get an appointment. There are contact detail on every Health Board website and on our Welsh Government website to.
“We begin the next big effort to vaccinate people in priority groups five to nine at the same time as we are providing second dose appointments to all those in the first four priority groups.
“We’ll start by offering appointments to people in groups five, and six. This includes people aged 65 to 69 people, aged 16 to 64 with an underlying health condition, younger adults in residential care settings and a great many unpaid carers who are looking after people who are vulnerable.
“This is another massive logistical effort and we’ll be using all of the resources we have available to use in the days and weeks ahead, including local pharmacies, to make sure we can vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”
However there were questions over the priority list, with the health minister challenged on some mild and moderate asthmatics who qualify for a free flu vaccine, are not included within category six – which covers those aged 16-65 who have underlying health conditions which puts them at greater risk.
Asthmatics who have previously shielded, have been hospitalised previously or regularly take steroid tablets do feature in the priority list.
Mr Gething said: “I do understand that, as ever, there will be people who will be disappointed if they’re not within that particular priority group.
“But this is still about understanding risk and how we vaccinate people and in turn to save the maximum number of lives to avoid harm.”
This Friday will also see the outcome of the current three week review.
Although most of the “headroom” is being used on those aged between three and seven returning to school from next week, the health minister said the Welsh Government is looking at whether any “small changes” could be made.
He said: “We’ve been working with local education authorities, with teaching and non teaching staff unions to develop a phased and flexible plan to enable foundation phases children to restart from next Monday.
“You’ll also know the first minister has said that we are looking at whether there are any other small changes we’re able to make to give families a bit more flexibility after such a long lockdown.
“We are continuing to see positive reductions in cases within our communities.
“The seven day average rate has fallen and has remained below 100 cases per 100,000 people for the first time in many, many months.
“The positivity rate is less than 10%. The the R number remains below one and is between 07 and 0.9.
“All of this is incredibly positive and it’s all thanks to your hard work and your sacrifices over these winter months.”
More information on the outcome of the three week review and any changes to the current restrictions will be announced by First Minister Mark Drakeford on Friday afternoon at 12:15pm.
The above case rate is a Wales wide figure, at the time of writing Wrexham is 161.1 per 100k.
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