By the end of this month, those in the over 80s age group in Powys will have largely been vaccinated, the local MS for Montgomeryshire has been told.
Plans for an expansion of vaccination centre hubs have also been confirmed during a meeting with Powys Teaching Health Board this week.
Montgomeryshire’s Member of the Welsh Parliament, Russell George MS, has said that following earlier concerns about a lack of clarity on local vaccination plans, he has been reassured of progress over the weeks ahead.
Russell George MS and Craig Williams MP along with other politicians had a meeting with the CEO and other officials from Powys Teaching Health Board on Wednesday (6th January) to discuss the details of the vaccine rollout programme for Powys.
Following the meeting, Russell George MS said:
"Sadly, Wales is lagging behind the rest of the UK so far, with a lower proportion of people getting a first dose of the vaccine. However, approximately 3% of the population have been vaccinated in Powys, which I’m pleased to report is the highest rate in Wales.
"Prior to the meeting with Powys Teaching Health Board, I was concerned about the lack of information and clarity on the local rollout plans, and the pace of the roll out particularly for the over 80s age group but the CEO of the Health Board has assured me that the rollout for the over 80s has already begun."
Mr George said that both he and Craig Williams MP had concerns raised with them, particularly that the pace for the vaccination for the other 80s age group was not moving forward at the same rate as in other parts of the UK.
Mr George said that the Health Board had confirmed to him that there were approximately 10,000 people in Powys in the over 80s age group, and that 3,000 should have already received a letter about their vaccination.
"I was told that these letters are being staged to help for a smooth process. The letters sent so far ask people to ring to arrange an appointment. However, I understand that in future the letters will instead offer an appointment slot and ask for people to ring if they wish to make any alterations. The Health Board are asking people not to contact either them or their GP ahead of receiving this letter. The CEO also informed me that by the end of this month, those in the over 80s age group will have largely been vaccinated.
"From the week commencing 18th January, the county’s three large vaccination centre hubs will expand to administer 4,000 vaccinations each week. The vaccination hub in Montgomeryshire is currently the Park Street Day Centre in Newtown. This will change to Maldwyn Leisure Centre from 18th January. Then, from the week commencing 25th January, the county’s vaccination programme is set to increase to 8,000 vaccinations each week when GP-led clinics open across the county.
"At the moment, the vaccine programme is giving priority to care home residents & staff, people aged 80 and over, and frontline health and care workers. The next priority groups are people aged 75 and over, people aged 70 and over, and those deemed to be Clinically Extremely Vulnerable.
"As you can imagine, the Health Board are having to cope with a number of factors. My thanks go to those that are involved in the track and trace and the vaccination programme. The health board also asked for us to have patience with them as they work though the ongoing plans."
After the priority groups, the next priority groups identified in nation-wide guidance are:
• People aged 65 and over
• People aged 16 to 64 with underlying conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
• People aged 60 and over
• People aged 55 and over
• People aged 50 and over
The UK’s independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will then provide advice on which population groups should be vaccinated next.
Further information on the Covid-19 vaccination deployment is also available at: www.pthb.nhs.wales/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccination/