AROUND half of over 60s living in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Bridgend and Merthyr Tydfil have been given their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the health board.
Members of Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board were also told at their meeting Thursday, March 25 that they are on target for everyone over 50 to have received their first dose by mid-April.
The first target to offer the first vaccine to all in priority groups one to four by February 14 was achieved and the health board also achieved targets for ambulance staff to be vaccinated by January 18 and all care home staff and residents by the end of January 2021.
Of the 116,003 in these top four priority groups, the latest figures show that 100,154 received their first jab by February 14, 4,988 received their first dose between February 15 and March 14 and there are 68,502 second doses left to be given before May 2.
Clare Williams, the board’s director of planning and performance, said the vaccination programme is a vital part of the emergency response to Covid.
She said: “We need to recognise that huge undertaking and be really really proud of our staff and our partners and our communities who are stepping up and meeting that challenge.”
Ms Williams said it was the partnership working that allowed them to be able to deliver at this scale and she thanked all three local authorities.
“I remain really positive about the situation of hitting our mid-April doses for over 50s.
“I know people will have been concerned about the fluctuating vaccine supply position and I won’t sit here and say that it isn’t tight but we do have, based on current information, sufficient supply to be able to deliver in that second week of April every over 50 receiving their first dose vaccination.”
Ms Williams said they are not forgetting the second doses and they are administering doses of the Pfizer vaccine and that as we run-up to Easter all of those in cohorts one to four who have received the Pfizer vaccine are likely to have received their second dose including those in care homes.
She also said they haven’t forgotten harder to reach communities such as the homeless and they have been doing a lot of myth-busting about the vaccine as well. “We will leave no one behind. There’s always some reason why perhaps someone hasn’t been able to receive their vaccine.”
These reasons include them not feeling it was the right thing to do at the time or even the health board not having the right contact details for them.
The health board has set up a phone line and contact form for people who feel they should have been invited for a vaccine by now.
The health board has expanded the number of mass vaccination centres from four to six to improve access for communities in the hope that uptake will increase and that it will place less pressure on primary care.
In the next week, the health board will be sending out letters to the next priority group which is 45-50-year-olds and Ms Williams said they are in constant conversation with the Welsh Government about the future of the vaccination programme in terms of the potential need for booster jabs.
Marcus Longley, chair of the health board, said:
“This is unprecedented territory isn’t it really?
“It’s amazing what has been achieved by the whole health service. It’s a fantastic effort.
“I think one of the loveliest things in the last few weeks has been people’s joy when that letter comes through the letterbox or the email or whatever it is.”
He said it’s superb and it’s lovely to see us coming together in this way.
Board member Jayne Sadgrove asked about the Aberfan Community Centre and if there was a plan to open it.
Ms Williams said they had intended to open one there but they were advised that the building wasn’t suitably secure to hold the vaccine and there were issues with accessibility of the vaccine.
But she said it doesn’t impact their ability to deliver the volume of vaccines needed for Merthyr Tydfil as Rhydycar is sized for the population of Merthyr.
She said they’re also working with Age Connects and the fire service who are helping with community transport.
In April the health board is looking at commissioning community pharmacies to provide vaccines in small numbers with a minimum requirement of 100 appointments a week.