Digital vaccination records and simplified booking systems are among some of the changes set out in a new plan to increase the take up of vaccinations across Wales.
The plan, which is published by Health Minister Eluned Morgan today [Tuesday 25 October], builds on the success of the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out and will help to improve access to and the supply of vaccines.
The National Immunisation Framework for Wales sets out a series of actions which will make it easier for people to know what vaccinations they are eligible for and how to receive them.
This includes digital vaccination records, simplified booking systems and vaccines being given at the same appointment, so people can get their flu and COVID-19 jabs at the same time, for example. This will be more convenient for people and help to increase take-up of these two seasonal vaccines in the future.
The process to transform vaccination services is underway as the autumn COVID-19 booster and winter NHS flu jab programmes are integrated this year.
The framework also outlines the move towards the national procurement of the flu vaccine over the next two years, although GPs and pharmacies will continue to administer the vaccine to patients.
Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan, said:
“We want as many people as possible to come forward for their vaccinations – from the routine childhood vaccines to the free NHS winter flu jab. Vaccines save lives and help to keep us all safe.
“But to do this we need to make sure vaccines are easily available. People’s response to the COVID-19 vaccination programme has been phenomenal, showing a real collective effort to keep Wales safe.
“This ambitious National Immunisation Framework builds on the success of that programme and applies it to all our other vaccine programmes. It will help to transform the way vaccinations are provided in Wales.”
Vaccines play an important role in public health. The COVID-19 vaccine has transformed our response to the pandemic, helping reduce serious illnesses and deaths.
The World Health Organisation estimates that vaccination prevents up to three million deaths worldwide each year.
Dr Chris Johnson, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme at Public Health Wales, said:
“Immunisation helps stop the spread of serious illnesses and provides health protection to the whole of our population. Ensuring we are all up-to-date with our vaccines is important for our own health, but also to protect the health of our children, friends, families and the vulnerable in our communities.
“Vaccinations are an essential public health tool, saving millions of lives globally every year. With successful vaccination campaigns we have made diseases such as smallpox, polio and rubella, that killed or disabled thousands each year, become a thing of the past in the UK. We are also making huge progress in reducing meningitis and HPV-related cancers.
“We can still improve and ensure our communities remain protected and that we keep these diseases rare. We need to do this in partnership with the population, making sure everyone has access to the facts they need to make an informed decision and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be protected from preventable harm. This framework has these values at its core.”