Wales “on track” for all eligible adults to be offered first dose of vaccine by mid July
Wales remains on track to offer all eligible adults a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine by the middle of July, the first minister has confirmed, as well as saying ‘surge’ vaccinations or ‘recalibrating’ how vaccines are given out can be a line of defence against variants.
Over 1,990,000 doses have been administered so far across Wales, with the two million milestone expected to be hit this weekend.
More than 891,000 people in Wales are also fully vaccinated.
Mr Drakeford also announced that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is at its lowest level since the start of the pandemic more than 15 months ago.
As of today there are three people with the virus in critical care in Welsh hospitals.
The number of coronavirus related deaths have also dropped, with Wales thankfully now regularly recording zero in the daily update.
Speaking at today’s Welsh Government briefing, First Minister Mark Drakeford described the rollout of the vaccine as a “truly incredible achievement”.
He said: “It’s all down to the dedication and the hard work of all those NHS staff, volunteers and military personnel working in clinics all over Wales.
“It’s due to their efforts and the fantastic response to vaccination, that we have one of the very best vaccination rates in the whole of the world.
“Take up amongst care home residents, people aged over 80 and people in their 70s is higher than 90% for both first and second doses.
“More than half of people in their 30s and well over a third of people in the 18-29 age range have now have their first dose in Wales.
“Over the next few weeks, we will accelerate still further our programme of first dose vaccinations as other parts of the UK make progress to the levels of secondary doses we have already achieved in Wales.
“We remain on target to offer all eligible adults vaccination by the middle of July. And if vaccine supplies allows us to move faster than we know that we can and we will.”
Earlier in the briefing the First Minister said he would look at ‘calibrating’ vaccination programmes to help mitigate issues around the Indian variant if they were to surface significantly in Wales.
‘Surge vaccinations’ have been suggested to deal with issues in Blackburn and Bolton, however there has been debate, and therefore a lag in deciding if that is appropriate.
We asked the First Minister on the topic, and if that was the type of action he had in mind, and if so, were there plans in place for that as a targeted response, and would he give decision making freedom to health boards and local authorities?
The First Minister told us, “I think the two ways in which vaccinations could be calibrated to deal with a sort of circumstances we are seeing across the border. First is that you could, as you probably heard, calibrate the vaccination so you do more second doses of more vulnerable people.”
“Now if that were necessary in Wales, we would be starting from a very good platform. Because as you have seen, people over 70 or 80, over 90% of them have already had their second dose of vaccination, over 90% of care home residents have had their second dose as well.”
“So it would be possible to do more lower down the age ranges for more vulnerable people, so that’s one possibility.”
“Then the second possibility is, as you say, to do a concentrated vaccination effort in a particular geographical area were there to be a surge of cases there.”
“We absolutely don’t rule either those things out in Wales, if they were necessary, we would do it in partnership as we tried to do everything.
“There would be advice available nationally, it would be delivered locally, using all that local knowledge and experience that all our health boards now have of delivering vaccination successfully.”
“So we didn’t have vaccination this time last year, it is a new tool that we can try and deploy to deal with new and emerging circumstances and we definitely would be considering doing that in Wales were we to need to.
“With only 26 cases, at the moment, of the Indian variant and no geographical concentration of them probably neither of those things is currently, immediately, on the cards here, but we will plan on the basis that we might need to do so.”
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