A HUGE coronavirus vaccination programme is expected to get under way in Swansea Bay with 38,000 doses arriving by the end of December.
Health board chiefs were told that 22,000 doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine and 16,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were due to arrive.
At a Swansea Bay University Health Board meeting on November 26, public health director Keith Reid said frontline health and social staff will be vaccinated first – possibly from next week.
But he said the health board hadn’t received “explicit” instructions as yet.
Dr Reid said vaccination centres would be created at the Bay Studios field hospital, off Fabian Way, Margam Orangery, and Canolfan Gorseinon.
Vaccinations will also take place at hospitals for hospital staff.
“We think we can deliver 3,200 or 3,300 per day, seven days a week,” said Dr Reid.
But he said this would depend on recruiting enough staff to deliver the injections.
He added that vaccine supply constraints in the coming months could be a concern.
Dr Reid said he expected the vaccination programme in Swansea Bay to last into autumn 2021.
A UK Government indication that vaccinations would be carried out by Easter, he said, was “very optimistic, perhaps naively, optimistic in my view”.
Dr Reid said coronavirus was on the increase in Swansea Bay after being curtailed by the fire-break lockdown for a period of 10 days after it ended on November 9.
Hospitals in the region were treating 217 patients with Covid, as of November 25, with 20 of those in critical care.
Dr Reid said 38 out of 89 care homes in the region currently had Covid outbreaks, and that evidence was emerging of the virus spreading within schools rather than being brought in from outside into the classroom.
The highest rise in positive cases is currently among working age adults.
Dr Reid said large local employers such as the DVLA, Tata Steel, Amazon and the health board itself were experiencing outbreaks, as well as smaller businesses.
He said workers on low levels of sick pay could be deterred from self-isolating, as they should do, if they were not feeling well or if there were a close contact of a positive Covid case.
“People are going to carry on working, trying to maintain their income,” he said. “They would rather do that than the right thing from a public health point of view.”
Dr Reid said the “economic vulnerability” of deprived areas in the region needed to be understood better.
“People don’t live in nice, well demarcated houses,” he said. “They often live in an extended household setting.”
Health board chairwoman Emma Woollett said Covid-19 was still dominating the work of staff, despite “rays of light on the horizon”.
There was a still a long way to go, she said, before “life as we knew it returns”.
She added: “It’s a very long haul – it’s been a terribly difficult one for people, as we know.”