Update on the progress of our vaccination programme.
Our Winter respiratory vaccination strategy sets out our plans for an integrated vaccination programme. It details how we will offer both the flu and COVID-19 booster vaccines to eligible individuals this year.
Our 3 main priorities for our winter respiratory vaccination programme are:
- protecting those at greatest risk
- protecting children and young people
- ensuring that nobody is left behind by continuing to offer the initial course of the COVID-19 vaccine
The Winter Respiratory Vaccination Programme (WRVP) commenced on 1 September 2022. It brings together the COVID-19 and flu vaccination programmes.
This update is the first in a new series of fortnightly progress reports to:
- reflect on progress
- provide important messages during the course of the programme
Vaccination transformation programme
Work on the development of a new National Immunisation Framework for Wales is progressing. It is on track for publication later in the autumn.
Progress against strategy
Protecting those at greatest risk
Vaccination for the COVID eligible groups started on 1 September. The programme began vaccinating:
- residents and staff working in care homes for older adults
- individuals who are housebound
- frontline health and social care workers
We are in the process of inviting other eligible groups for COVID-19 vaccination. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has identified these as:
- all adults aged 50 years and over
- persons aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group, as set out in the Green Book (gov.uk)
- persons aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression, as defined in the Green Book (gov.uk)
- persons aged 16-49 who are carers
Protecting children and young people
The following are eligible for the flu vaccination this year:
- children aged 2 and 3 years
- children in primary school from reception class to Year 6
- children and young people in secondary school Year 7 to Year 11
- people aged 6 months to 49 years in a clinical risk group as set out in the Welsh Health Circular on flu
Parents or guardians will be asked to give consent. We encourage parents, guardians, children and young people to discuss together whether or not to have the vaccination. Factual information is available on the Public Health Wales website to help make this decision
Most children and young people will get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre. Some areas will also be offering the vaccine through special schools. Vaccine roll-out will be informed by local knowledge and may change depending on circumstances.
Health boards will mainly use school nursing services to deliver the children’s nasal flu spray vaccine. Follow up sessions and the use of GPs will also be part of the vaccination deployment model.
The following vaccines will be used for children and young people this year:
The COVID-19 vaccines advised for use in persons aged 12 to 17 years are:
- Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA (Comirnaty) bivalent Original ‘wild-type’/Omicron BA.1 vaccine
- Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA (Comirnaty) ‘wild-type’ vaccine
The COVID -19 vaccine advised for use in persons aged 5 to 11 years is:
- Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA (Comirnaty) ‘wild-type’ vaccine paediatric formulation
The vaccine advised for flu use in persons aged 2 to 17 years is:
- Live attenuated quadrivalent influenza vaccine (LAIV) - (unless contraindicated or declined due to gelatine content)
The vaccine advised for use in persons aged 6m to 2 years (or where LAIV is contraindicated or declined is:
- Quadrivalent influenza vaccine egg-culture vaccine (QIVe).
Nobody left behind
The principle that people can start or continue their course of vaccines at any point will continue. The NHS will continue to make the vaccine available and accessible to achieve high levels of uptake.
We are expanding the remit of the Vaccine Equity Committee to include flu this year. This will support the integration of flu and COVID-19 vaccinations under the Winter Respiratory Vaccination Programme.
We want all those eligible to have fair access and fair opportunity to take up the offer of vaccination. Having a regular focus on uptake data and potential barriers to vaccination will support this aim.
Summary of our overall progress
Since commencement of the Winter Respiratory Vaccination Programme on the 1 of September:
120,278 COVID-19 boosters have been given (as at 20 September 2022)
Uptake data on flu will be included when it becomes available.
- Flu vaccine roll-out began during the week commencing 12 September. This is for all flu cohorts.
- The ‘Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority’ has approved a Pfizer bivalent vaccine. Health Boards, GP’s and community pharmacies will begin using this vaccine from the 19 September.
- The emergence of variants has led to the development of variant vaccines, to attaining a better match in vaccine-induced immunity against circulating strains. Vaccines that contain two different antigens, each based on a different SARS-CoV2 strain, are termed bivalent vaccines. Bivalent vaccines may therefore potentially improve protection against some variants of SARS-CoV2.
- All those eligible will receive an invitation for their COVID-19 booster by 30 November.
- All those eligible will receive an invitation for their flu vaccine by 31 December.