Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services
Today I have published the second update to our National Vaccination Strategy. We published our Strategy on 11 January and an update to it on 26 February. We’re now 15 weeks into our vaccination programme and it has continued to go from strength to strength.
Since publishing the first update last month we have marked some key achievements. We hit the 1 million doses mark at the beginning of the month and we hit the 1.5 million doses mark last week. Data published today shows that our incredible vaccination teams have now administered 1,288,250 first doses and 353,347 second doses, so have administered a total of 1,641,597 vaccinations.
I really cannot thank our fantastic vaccination teams enough. The pressure under which NHS Wales has operated over the past year has been unprecedented and immense. Yet NHS staff, supported by amazing local partners and volunteers, continue to step up to the plate to protect us as we try to navigate our way out of the public health crisis.
I said in my written statement last Thursday, following the news of a delay in vaccine deliveries into the UK, that supply is the limiting factor in our programme. If we had more vaccine, our teams could vaccinate more people more quickly. Despite this set-back, due to the excellent planning happening within our programme we remain in a strong position and remain on-track to meet our mid-April milestone to have offered a vaccine to all those in priority groups 1-9.
As we close in on the second milestone in our National Strategy, plans for milestone 3 are being finalised and implemented. The update to our Strategy sets out more detail on these plans, which are framed by three key considerations:
- Maintaining high take up – which may become more difficult as we begin to target our younger and healthier population but is absolutely critical to vaccination being a route out of the pandemic;
- Equality and equity of access – building on the approach we have taken so far to reach out to and into communities to ensure access to vaccination and that no individual or community is left behind;
- Delivery model resilience – taking stock ahead of the next phase to ensure our model is both safeguarded and fit for purpose in terms of the groups now being targeted.
To support our drive for equality and equity of access, I am also publishing a Vaccine Equity Strategy today. This will sit under our National Strategy and will frame our activity to ensure all people in Wales have a fair and equal opportunity to take up their offer of vaccination. A new Vaccine Equity Committee has been formed to oversee this priority.
I want to end with a further thanks to the over 1.2 million people who have now taken up their offer of vaccination. Evidence on the efficiency of vaccination is growing all the time, with the latest study coming from the USA just yesterday. I was also really pleased with the conclusive nature of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s support for the safety of the vaccines last week. I was happy to have my first dose of the vaccine last week and I am looking forward to the longer term protection my second dose will offer. I urge everyone else to follow the lead of the 1.2 million and take up their offer when it comes; and then ensure to go back for their second dose. Every vaccine really does count and is one step closer for us all in moving towards a brighter future.