On behalf of our members, the seven Local Health Boards, three NHS Trusts and Health Education and Improvement Wales, the Welsh NHS Confederation has produced this briefing for Members of the Senedd to provide a summary of the key information around the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Wales and the most important messages that members of the public should be aware of. Links to further information from NHS organisations can be found on Page 9 of the briefing.
The COVID-19 vaccination programme is the largest scale vaccination campaign in our country’s history. Since the first vaccination became available on the 8th of December 2020, the NHS in Wales, working with partners, had in 5 weeks vaccinated more people than would normally receive the annual seasonal flu vaccine. To date over 175,000 people have been vaccinated, over 5.1% of the Welsh population. This is a remarkable achievement and should be acknowledged due to the significant work of the NHS workforce.
Our health service has never mobilised an immunisation programme on this scale – it will be unique in many of our lifetimes – and during the most difficult time in the NHS’s history. For over 10 months staff across the system, in GP practices, intensive care units, ambulance services, mental health support services and social care services, have been working to meet the needs of the people of Wales in an increasingly difficult and stressful environment. Recently staff have been working hard to cope with rising admissions as a result of community transmission of the new variant, with the NHS currently operating at nearly 150% of normal critical care capacity and more than one third of beds in hospital occupied by COVID-19 patients. NHS Wales has built an infrastructure to deliver mass vaccination programme from scratch and that process is ongoing.
The impact of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will offer individual protection as well as greater protection for our loved ones, communities and reducing the demand on the NHS and social care. We understand that people across Wales are apprehensive and want to get the vaccine as soon as possible so that they can move further towards a return to more normal day-to-day life.
The message from NHS leaders is clear, nobody will be left behind and every adult who wants the vaccine will receive it. We all hope the vaccine will lead to a better and brighter 2021.