Wales hits jab target as Mark Drakeford hails 'phenomenal effort'
Wales hits target of offering Covid jabs to ALL care home residents, over 70s, frontline health workers and clinically vulnerable – as First Minister Mark Drakeford hails ‘phenomenal effort’ after 684,000 people are vaccinated
- Welsh Government aimed to vaccinate all in first four priority groups by mid-Feb
- All such patients will have got jab invites ‘at the very latest over the weekend’
- But it had failed to jab 70% of over-80s by January 24 – only managing 52.8%
- Ministers blamed that on the recent cold weather and snow that has hit Britain
Wales has hit its target of offering coronavirus jabs to all care home residents, over 70s, frontline workers and the clinically vulnerable.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said the milestone is a ‘truly phenomenal effort’ for the country’s vaccine rollout, which has so far seen 684,097 people receive their first dose.
In England, people in the top four priority groups have already been told to come forward for a vaccine if they want one, regardless of whether they have been contacted by their GP or the NHS with an appointment.
The Welsh Government previously said it would offer vaccines to those in the first four priority groups – residents and staff in care homes for older adults, frontline health and social care workers, all people 70 years old and over, and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals – by the middle of February.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said the milestone is a ‘truly phenomenal effort’ for the country’s vaccine rollout
Mr Drakeford said today: ‘To have achieved this first milestone and offered vaccination to everyone in the first four priority groups – those who are most vulnerable to coronavirus – is a truly phenomenal effort.
‘I want to thank everyone who has been working around the clock to reach this point.’
Health minister Vaughan Gething said: ‘Every vaccine given to someone in Wales is a small victory against the virus, and we are already looking ahead to meeting our next milestone.
‘The first milestone in our vaccination strategy set out that everyone in the first four priority groups will have been offered their first dose appointment by mid-February.’
Mr Gething added ‘not everyone in these groups will have attended their appointment yet’, and that ‘some will not have responded and some will have chosen not to have the vaccine’.
The Welsh Conservatives’ leader in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies, said: ‘This is a true British and Welsh success story and I would like to thank everyone involved, especially our incredibly hard-working vaccination teams and armed forces who have gone above and beyond delivering the rollout programme.
‘The UK Government’s bold decision to opt out of the disastrous EU scheme has now been fully vindicated and ensured Wales has had the vaccines available to meet this target and protect the most vulnerable in our society.
‘There is still a long road ahead of us, with second doses still to be administered to those most at risk and over three-quarters of the population requiring their first jab, but this is a significant milestone we can all celebrate as we look to recover from the pandemic and rebuild Wales.’
The Welsh Government failed to hit an earlier target of vaccinating 70% of over-80s by January 24 – only managing 52.8% by that time – which ministers blamed on cold weather and snow.
On Wednesday, Wales became first UK nation to vaccinate more than 20% of its population, and one of the first countries in the world to do so, but Mr Drakeford has confirmed a planned reduction in vaccine supply is expected in Wales in the next few weeks.
But he said the country is still on track to complete the vaccination of those in the next five priority groups by the spring.
Public Health Wales said on Thursday that the total of first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine administered had increased by 28,678 in 24 hours.
A member of the military vaccinates a man at the COVID-19 mass vaccination centre at Pentwyn Leisure Centre in Cardiff
The agency said 3,795 second doses have also been given, an increase of 108.
In total, 87.6% of over-80s in Wales have received their first dose, along with 84.2% of those aged 75-79 and 73.5% of those aged 70-74.
For care homes, 79.1% of residents and 83% of staff have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Mr Drakeford added that everyone in the top four priority groups will have received ‘invitations to come in’ for a Covid-19 jab ‘at the very latest over the weekend’.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘There are 740,000 people in Wales in those four groups, 689,000 of them had already been vaccinated by the end of Wednesday.
‘We expect, when we have yesterday’s figure, to go well past the 700,000 barrier today.
‘We know that all of those who are yet to be vaccinated will have had invitations to come in by the end of today or at the very latest over the weekend.’
‘It will be a very small number [who will not have had a vaccine by the end of the weekend] – we’ve already completed 92% of all the people in those priority groups, thanks to the amazing efforts of our NHS and other staff.
‘There will be some people who were ill when they were first offered who will need to be rebooked, there will be some people who chose not to have a vaccine when they were first offered it who may have changed their minds.
‘Our NHS has been making enormous efforts this week to contact anybody who we haven’t yet heard from to make sure that if they want a vaccination, they will get it either today or, as I say at the very latest, it will be completed at the weekend.’
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