England’s jab sites a ‘free-for-all’ says Wales’ Health Minister as she defends lack of walk-in centres
Wales’ Health Minister has defended a lack of walk-in booster jab centres in Wales by saying that those in England are a “free-for-all”.
Eluned Morgan was responding to calls for walk-in centres to be opened in Wales amid concerns about a low take-up of the booster jabs to increase immunity to coronavirus.
Montgomeryshire MS Russell George said that in England you could get a booster dose from a walk-in site if it’s been at least six months since your second dose, and asked when Wales would be adopting the same approach.
The Minister replied saying the Welsh Government is looking to deliver boosters in a “systematic way”, accusing the English system of walk-in centres for priority groups being a “free-for-all”.
“I’m pleased to say that about 68 per cent of care home residents have already had their booster jabs, as have about 54 per cent of care home workers and NHS workers,” she said. “So, these are the first categories that we’re looking at.
“We’re not going to be opening it up to a free-for-all in the way that they have in England. We’ll be more systematic than that, following the kind of advice that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation gave in the first round.”
A booster jab is the third vaccination against Covid-19 and should be delivered six months after the second in an effort to maintain high levels of immunity against the virus.
They are being delivered to priority groups such as care home residents, frontline health and social care workers, those with underlying health conditions, and adults over 50 years of age. These groups are being invited for their booster jab by health boards.
Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said that he thought the numbers would be much higher if people did not have to wait to be invited, instead having the option of a walk-in centre.
“Given the worry that ministers express about coronavirus rates in Wales, I am surprised that this is not the priority of the Labour Government right now, who instead think expanding the use of vaccine passports is a better use of time and energy when they have been nothing more than an ineffective limiting of our liberties that fail to increase uptake of the vaccine or limit the spread,” he said.
“Meanwhile, people in England can walk into a centre for their booster jab but those in Wales can’t. It is not acceptable that Welsh people cannot access the same level of safety as our English cousins. I hope the Minister changes her mind and urgently acts on our reasonable calls.”