Five key Covid-19 lockdown dates in Wales and how they affect you – North Wales Live
More than 150,000 people have now received their first jab of the vaccination in Wales, despite the rows about delays to the roll-out.
Over the last week, local authorities have averaged 10,000 vaccinations a day and that work will gather pace throughout this month and February.
GP practices, dentists and optometrists are playing their part and many more community pharmacies will join the effort once a three-day pilot in Gwynedd is complete.
Government leaders and health officials alike are calling for the public to get their vaccine when appointments are offered to help stop further spread of the virus.
This is the largest vaccination programme Wales has ever seen, in a race to protect and save lives.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “The roll-out of these vaccines to every eligible adult in Wales as quickly as is safe to do so is truly an example, once again, of our inspiring healthcare workforce coming together as one,
“A mix of vaccination sites and centres have been selected to ensure everyone across the country has equal access to vaccination. People can be expected to be asked to attend either a mass or community centre, hospital, GP practice, pharmacy or mobile unit.
“We also want people to feel comfortable to be vaccinated and to do this as conveniently as possible, especially for those most at risk from the harms of coronavirus. This means using GP practices for a lot of our national delivery and they will be a key focus as the roll-out progresses.
“I cannot stress enough, your local healthcare workforce are doing absolutely everything they can, and to them, I am immensely thankful. When it is your turn, you will be notified of where to go. Please do not call your GP or health services to request a Covid-19 vaccine and add undue pressure to their workloads.”
But many people have raised questions including when they will be able to receive the vaccination? – which is currently only offered to healthcare workers, those over 80 and those deemed vulnerable.
When is the next review of lockdown rules in Wales? And when will restrictions be relaxed?
Here are some of the key dates in January, February and beyond and how they will affect you.
January 18: All Welsh Ambulance Service staff to receive the coronavirus vaccine
All Welsh Ambulance Service staff and other emergency care staff, who have played a crucial role in this pandemic will receive the vaccine.
According to the Welsh Government’s coronavirus vaccination strategy, all the Welsh Ambulance Service’s 3,500 staff are expected to be offered the jab by Monday, January 18.
A spokeswoman for the Welsh Government said: “As of today all frontline staff at the Welsh Ambulance Service have been offered a vaccination.
” Our priority is to ensure that our frontline NHS health care workers are vaccinated as soon as possible.”
January 29: Next review of lockdown restrictions in Wales
The restrictions in place across Wales will be reviewed by the Welsh Government on January 29.
The outcome of this review will depend upon infection rates.
While there is hope that restrictions may be eased as numbers continue to fall, there is a possibility that the current lockdown will be extended or measures may even be tightened further.
Latest figures from Public Health Wales show that the seven-day case rate in Wales between January 7 and 12 was 306.1 per 100,000 population. That is well below the peak in the second wave which reached more than 600 cases per 100,000.
The percentage of those testing positive for the virus is now on the decline, with just 17.2% of patients recording a positive result between January 7 and 13. In late December that figure stood at 24%.
Mr Drakeford said if the cases continue to head in the right direction over the next two weeks then the Cabinet will decide whether there is any “headroom for us to begin the process of lessening the current level of restrictions we all face”.
“This is a welcome change from the very worrying position we were facing just before Christmas,” he added.
“These signs of improvement show that all your hard work and sacrifice over the last six weeks is working.
“I want to thank everyone for all that they have been doing, for sticking to the rules and for staying at home. But we all need to continue this effort.
“We would have to be certain that the improvement is reliable and sustainable for us to begin the journey of lifting the restrictions. We want to do that as soon as it is safe to do so.”
End of January: Vaccine offered in all Welsh care homes
Another marker set by the Welsh Government is to offer vaccinations to all those living or working inside care homes by the end of January.
Care home residents are one of the most at-risk groups in society, and many of the residents are unable to attend mass vaccination centres, pharmacists or their GP.
However, the storage and transportation issues associated with the Pfizer vaccine, which must be stored at -70C means it is not as easy to transport compared to the Oxford equivalent to be approved.
However, health officials have raised concerns that residents without coronavirus are unable to be vaccinated against it due to outbreaks at their homes. Once any Covid cases are identified a care home is “red flagged”, meaning the residents cannot be inoculated until it’s been clear for 28 days.
One care home director in Cardiff had plans to vaccinate all 68 residents but three members test positive for coronavirus. Despite retesting as negative the vaccinations were not able to go ahead.
The anxious director said: “We are in a desperate predicament, with our residents in the highest priority coronavirus risk category, yet we are unable to access the lifesaving vaccinations they need.
“One of our homes initially had three staff test positive but on subsequent testing of the whole home, the three then tested negative, along with all 68 residents and 130 other staff.
“Despite this, Public Health Wales still insisted on yet another round of testing and will not vaccinate residents until it is done, putting their welfare at serious risk.”
End of January: GP surgeries offering the vaccine to increase from 100 to 250
By the end of January 100 to 250 GP surgeries across Wales will be able to offer the coronavirus vaccine to registered patients.
The scheme launched last week, with a select number of GPs offering the service.
But some doctors in primary care have voiced concerns about how few doses they have received so far.
Dr Dai Hickman, a GP partner at Avenue Villa Surgery in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, said he isn’t able to order any jabs until January 25.
He said: “Instead of letting the practices have a small and steady supply from the off, every practice has to apply for stock. We have been told that we can order our supply on January 25. That is the date that we’ve been given with no justification.
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“By the time that arrives and you get started it will be February. Time is of the essence. We were told that we would be able to order from January 11 but then that was changed quite late last week.”
Mid-February: All healthcare staff and the most vulnerable offered a vaccine
Wales’ coronavirus vaccine strategy, which was published last week, sets three key milestones.
The first is for all care home residents and staff, frontline health and social care staff, everyone over 70 and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable to be offered vaccination by mid-February.
This is in line with the target set by the UK Government to inoculate the first four priority groups. In Wales that equates to around 700,000 people. To date, 150,000 have been given a vaccine, meaning there is still a long way to go.
“If we can vaccinate this group, it would protect the people most at risk of serious illness and harm if they catch coronavirus,” said Health Minister Vaughan Gething.
The spring: All over the 50s and those at greater risk from Covid offered a vaccine
The second of the Welsh Government’s key milestones is to vaccinate all over-50s and everyone who is at greater risk from Covid by spring. That’s around 1.7 million people in Wales.
It is estimated that taken together, these at-risk groups represent around 99% of preventable deaths from Covid-19.
“These milestones depend on Wales receiving regular supplies of the vaccine to match our ambitions,” said Mr Gething.
“Vaccination is lifesaving and, in this pandemic, it could be life-changing for all of us. This is a race against the virus to save as many lives as possible.”
The autumn: All adults will be offered the vaccine
Subject to supply issues, Wales should expect every eligible adult to have received the coronavirus vaccine by the autumn.
However, some claim it has been a “stuttering start” for Wales when it comes to administering as many of these vaccines as possible.
According to figures on Monday morning, around 4% of the Welsh population had received the jab which is less than England (4.9%), Scotland (4.1%) and Northern Ireland (6%).
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the supply of the Pfizer vaccine had to last until February and was not being used all at once.
His comments were criticised for showing an apparent unwillingness to give out vaccines as soon as they are delivered. At least 327,000 doses have been delivered in Wales to date and less than half have been put in someone’s arm.
Mr Drakeford said: “There will be no point, and certainly it will be logistically very damaging to try to use all of that in the first week and then to have all our vaccinators standing around with nothing to do for another month.
“The sensible thing to do is to use the vaccine you’ve got over the period that you’ve got it for so that your system can absorb it, they can go on working, that you don’t have people standing around with nothing to do.”
In response, Dr David Bailey, chairman of the BMA in Wales said: “I’m deeply concerned by the comments I’ve heard and advise Welsh Government to look again at the roll-out strategy.
“For the First Minister to say that there is ‘no point’ in using all the supplies in a week to ensure vaccinators aren’t standing around with nothing to do is truly bewildering.
“Frontline staff are risking their lives to help others – the priority must be to get the second dose administered to those who have received the first, and to accelerate first doses for all remaining vaccinations to ensure maximum protection for staff and patients. We are asking the Welsh Government to stop sitting on supplies and get on with it.”
Meanwhile, the Welsh Government confirmed on Monday that one Oxford vaccine batch out of four had been delayed, affecting 26,000 doses due to be sent to Wales’ seven health boards.
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Wales was expected to receive 100,000 doses of the second vaccine this week but about a quarter are delayed after failing the regulator’s tests.
Mr Drakeford told Sky: “We were due to get four batches of the Oxford vaccine into Wales this week. One of those batches has not come through the testing process but we will get it next week, we have been told instead.
“Everybody is working flat out from the manufacturers through to the people who do the vaccination at the practical end, and when you are trying to do everything on a mass scale, and at such speed, there are going to be moments when not everything goes to plan. We are assured we will get that supply next week and we will be able to use it all then.”
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