More people in the Hywel Dda area will start to be called in for COVID-19 vaccinations as a result of recent news that the new Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Thus far, Hywel Dda University Health Board has provided more than 7,000 first vaccine doses, using the Pfizer vaccine since its approval earlier in December 2020.
Due to logistical constraints of the Pfizer vaccine, including storage, transportation and administration, this has been primarily provided to care home staff, and patient-facing NHS and care workers across the three counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
From next week the health board will receive initially limited supplies of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, but building up to far greater volumes through January.
The priority next week will be through a small number initially of GP practices, to call in the over 80s for vaccination locally, as well as continuing to vaccinate care home staff and NHS and care workers with the Pfizer vaccine supplies.
Work is ongoing in conjunction with primary care colleagues, so that by mid-January a growing number of GP practices across the three counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire will be calling patients in for the vaccine, as well as providing vaccination for more care home residents.
Health and care staff will continue to also be called in for vaccination in the mass centres in Carmarthen and Cardigan.
The health board is also working on setting up more community based vaccination centres to support health board and primary care delivery in Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Haverfordwest, as more vaccine doses are provided. Announcements will be made when details are finalised and the sites will be phased in according to logistical arrangements.
Chief Executive Steve Moore said: “This pandemic has been such a frightening time for our patients, communities and our NHS and care staff. We acknowledge there has been challenge also in starting what is the biggest mass vaccination programme the NHS has ever seen. But we are really pleased to have already vaccinated thousands of people in the Hywel Dda area. We are so grateful for the new hope the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offers our communities. It is a far easier vaccine for us to take into our communities and we are grateful to all the teams working together to achieve and expand this programme.
“We would ask our communities to bear with us. Please don’t phone your GP or hospital to find out when your vaccine will be, but be reassured that they will call you in at the appropriate time. But also please get ready to accept the vaccine when you are offered it. It will offer you great protection from the disease that has so drastically affected all our lives.”
Dr Sion James, Deputy Medical Director for Primary Care and Community Services added: "This is an exciting time for Primary Care Contractors to be part of a historical vaccination programme, working collaboratively with our colleagues in the health board.
“We ask that patients wait until they are called to be vaccinated as we will be working through the JCVI priority groups to ensure fair and equitable access to the vaccine."
Understandably, there will be a lot of questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines would not have been approved and released if it was not safe. Please visit http://phw.nhs.wales/covid-19-vaccination for more information regarding eligibility and safety of the vaccines.
We will make further announcements in due course.