Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
Health board chiefs have been urged to set up a local vaccination centre in Anglesey’s most populated town.
Such calls have been made by the island’s MS following a decision to set up a centre in the county town of Llangefni.
According to the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, all GP’s surgeries are now part of the vaccine rollout with no current plans to open another centre on the island.
But on a day that saw Anglesey Council confirm that 291 positive cases have already been identified by Test, Trace and Protect (TTP) teams this month – more than any other during the pandemic, with still another 11 days remaining in January – health chiefs have been urged to reconsider.
Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, having written to health board chiefs making the case for a second centre, added that Anglesey Council was “eager” to provide a location, as they have done with Llangefni’s Plas Arthur Leisure Centre.
He said, “I welcome that a centre has been earmarked for Llangefni, and having a centre in Bangor will make it accessible to people who live in the south of the island too.
“However, it is clear to me that we also need a vaccination centre for the most populated part on the Island, which is the Holyhead area, especially given recent pressure on primary care services in the town.”
He added, “We have brilliant vaccinating teams are already at work, and others are poised ready to go, but it is crucial now that Welsh Government build the confidence we need in this all important vaccination programme.
“There are real signs that the health board has been picking up the pace but let’s now see further plans for easing the mammoth task ahead of us, with more vaccination centres in more communities.”
In response Dr Chris Stockport, Executive Director of Primary and Community Care, said: “The Local Vaccination Centre on Anglesey will be Plas Arthur Leisure Centre, Llangefni.
“The centre forms part of a wider community rollout with includes GP surgeries and community pharmacists on the island, and mobile units. All GP surgeries are now part of the vaccine rollout and 71 practices have already started to administer the vaccine, with the remaining practices due to take delivery of the vaccine this week.
“There are currently no plans for the Health Board to establish another centre on Anglesey, but we are in continuous talks with our partners.”
Plas Arthur, Llangefni has been designated as one of the planned local vaccination centres, complimenting the mass vaccination facility at Ysbyty Enfys in Bangor.
These local centres have been designed to start administering vaccines later in the delivery phase, with the initial priority being to provide vaccinations in partnership with primary care providers, main acute hospital sites and the said Ysbyty Enfys mass centres.
As a result, the public are urged not to contact their GPs directly or to attend a vaccination centre unless they have been contacted and provided with an appointment.
Island MP Virginia Crosbie also said she’d received “a high volume of correspondence” about vaccination facilities and a perceived lack of information from the health board.
“I understand the pressure that BCUHB has been under to roll out the vaccination programme across a sizeable and largely rural region and for that reason their communications may not always have been as fast or comprehensive as they would like.
“Betsi expects to vaccinate 30,000 people this week and I understand that the local vaccination centre at Llangefni Leisure Centre will open only when vaccination supply reaches over 40,000 per week.
“I expect them to open the Llangefni centre within the next couple of weeks in order for them to meet the mid-February target set by the Welsh Government.
“Those to the east of the island are also close to the mass and hospital vaccination centres, based in Bangor.
“I can therefore understand why there is also a perceived need for a vaccination centre in Holyhead, particularly given that there are eight proposed local centres across Gwynedd in addition to those in Bangor.
“Since there are several GP surgeries and pharmacies in the Holyhead area which can deliver vaccinations, the health board may have assessed there’s no need for a separate local centre in the town.”
One of the first people on the island to receive the vaccine was 82 year old Jack Abbot MBE at Longford Road Surgery – part of Hwb Iechyd Caergybi.
Jack, the Chair of Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station, said: “My experience of the vaccine rollout here on Anglesey has been excellent and I would like to give my grateful thanks to the team effort.”
On behalf of Hwb Iechyd Caergybi, practice manager Sarah-Jane Lupton said: “We were delighted to be amongst the first GP surgeries on Anglesey to receive the vaccine and we have been swift to commence the rollout.
“Our team is working exceptionally hard to make sure that as many people as possible are protected quickly.”