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Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services

First published:
15 July 2022
Last updated:

Winter has been the season when the threat from COVID-19 is greatest for individuals and for health and social services.

As the UK moves from a period of pandemic emergency response to pandemic recovery, our focus will increasingly be on protecting those in society who continue to be more at risk of severe COVID-19.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is an independent expert advisory committee, which advises United Kingdom health departments about immunisation, making recommendations about vaccination schedules and vaccine safety. 

As part of its latest review of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, the JCVI has today published a statement with its final advice on the next phase of the programme, due to commence in the autumn of 2022.

The primary aim of this programme roll out is to boost immunity in those at higher risk from Covid-19 and to improve protection against severe illness, specifically hospitalisation and death, over winter 2022-23. To achieve this, a planned and targeted vaccination programme is considered more appropriate than a reactive, universal vaccination strategy.

The JCVI is recommending a single dose of Covid-19 vaccine be offered to:

  • Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults;
  • Frontline health and social care workers;
  • All adults aged 50 years and over;
  • Persons aged five to 49 years in a clinical risk group, as set out in the Green Book;
  • Persons aged five to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression, as defined in the Green Book;
  • Persons aged 16-49 who are carers.  

This final advice differs slightly from the interim advice issued in May, and now includes people aged 50 to 64 and confirms the definitions of those who are in clinical risk groups and adds household contacts of people with immunosuppression and carers.

Alongside my UK counterparts, I have accepted this advice, and subject to supply, NHS Wales stands ready to start operationalising this programme from 1 September.

I also will shortly publish an integrated strategy for the Winter Respiratory Vaccination Programme which will outline how we intend to help maximise uptake of both Covid-19 and flu vaccines to protect individuals, communities and the health and care system in Wales.

As ever, I am extremely grateful to the NHS and everyone involved in the vaccination programme for their continued hard work.

We are currently experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases across Wales, caused by the BA.5 subtype of the omicron variant. This has, in turn, caused a rise in the number of people needing hospital treatment for Covid-19.

We have extended the availability of free lateral flow tests to the end of July for people who have symptoms. I would urge everyone to follow these simple steps to keep themselves and Wales safe:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Maintain good hand hygiene
  • Stay at home and limit your contact with others if you are ill
  • Wear a face covering in indoor crowded or enclosed places
  • Meet others outdoors wherever possible
  • When indoors, increase ventilation and let fresh air in.