Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, responded to the Welsh Government’s press conference on the acceleration of the Covid booster programme:
“Accelerating the booster programme further is a clear priority for the NHS in Wales in the coming weeks.
“While none of the existing pressures on the system have gone away, the immediate focus of efforts has adjusted to prioritise vaccinating as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. We thank all staff and volunteers that have come forward to help with this enormous challenge.
“NHS leaders in Wales are aware of the enormous pressure this puts on staff particularly over the Christmas period and we ask the public to make every effort to attend their booster appointment – it’s the most important way you can help. As we know, early evidence shows that two doses of the vaccine provides less protection against this new variant and therefore having the booster dose offers vital protection.
“We must all take this seriously and take responsibility for our actions to protect ourselves, our families and the NHS. The more transmissible nature of Omicron means there is the potential to overwhelm the NHS because of the sheer volume of cases we are likely to see in the coming weeks and months.
“As well as taking up the offer of vaccination when invited, there are measures we can all take to protect ourselves and our loved ones. This includes taking a lateral flow test before meeting up or going to busy places, remembering your mask and limiting the number of people you see as far as possible.
“We’re grateful for the huge efforts people have made throughout the pandemic and in particular want to thank the incredible staff who have been working relentlessly for almost two years to keep the people of Wales safe.”