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Call for Wales to get ‘fair share’ of vaccines based on older population

21 Jan 2021 3 minutes Read
Covid-19 vaccination. Picture by the Welsh Government.

Plaid Cymru have today called for urgent reassurances that Wales is getting its fair share of vaccines to reflect its older population.

During an Urgent Question to the Secretary of State for Health in England, Matt Hancock, Ceredgion MP Ben Lake pointed out that Wales has “the largest proportion of people aged over 70 in the UK, at over 17%”.

The Ceredigion MP called for “reassurances that Wales receives a vaccine allocation which reflects this level of relative need”.

Wales appears now to be lagging behind in terms of vaccine rollout, with 5.58% of people in Wales having received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 7.31% in Northern Ireland, 7.08% in England and 5.67% in Scotland.

Plaid Cymru has been calling on both the Welsh and UK Government to explain why Wales appears to have made slower progress.

“Frustrations with the Welsh Government’s rollout programme are well documented, and health boards in Wales this week have had to contend with some supply issues,” Ben Lake said.

“Can the Minister reassure me than any supply issues are being addressed and, given that Wales has the largest proportion of people aged over 70 in the UK – at over 17% – can he give us some reassurance that Wales receives a vaccine allocation which reflects this level of relative need?”

‘Clarify’

In his response, Matt Hancock said that “all of the three devolved nations are getting their vaccine according to fair shares”.

Speaking after the session, Ben Lake said: “The UK Secretary of State says that supply is consistent across all four nations, yet both he and the Welsh Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, have failed to explain why Wales appears to have made slower progress.

“We know that Wales has an older population compared to the rest of the UK. Clearly this should be factored into how the vaccine is allocated to each nation.

“Plaid Cymru is calling on both governments to clarify the situation, and should there be any supply issues impacting Wales’s vaccine programme, both governments need act with urgency to resolve them.”

‘Not great’

Plaid Cymru’s call came after it transpired that parts of England would be receiving a greater share of vaccines because they were behind the curve in vaccinating the eligible population.

According to HSJ, the North East and Yorkshire region has been told its covid-19 vaccine supply via primary care will be halved next week, largely because it is ahead of other areas in vaccinating its eligible population.

They have been told the main reason is that large parts of the North East and Yorkshire have vaccinated a greater percentage of their population than other regions, including very many of the over 80s.

One source told HSJ: “It’s a sensible policy if you have limited vaccine supply, which is clearly the case [but], given the demography, deprivation, and ethnicity in parts of the region, it’s not great.”

Data published a week ago indicated 46 per cent of over 80s had received a first dose, compared to 29 per cent in the East of England and 31 per cent in London.

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