First Minister Mark Drakeford has today praised NHS staff and volunteers vaccinating people for their “phenomenal effort” as the first milestone in Wales’ vaccination programme was reached.
As the final appointments are arranged for the weekend, Wales will become the first in the UK to reach the milestone of offering everyone in the first four priority groups a vaccination.
“Vaccination is the number one priority for the Welsh Government and for the NHS in Wales,” the First Minister said.
“To have achieved this first milestone and offered a 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.
“Of course, the hard work has only just begun – there are many, many more people to vaccinate yet and a lot of second doses still to give.”
The NHS has confirmed everyone in the first four priority groups has been contacted to be offered a vaccination appointment.
If health boards have been unable to contact someone on the list, or if an appointment has been missed, systems are in place to go back and check and re-arrange a new appointment for anyone who wants to be vaccinated.
The latest available figures show 684,097 people have received their first dose of the vaccine.
“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,” Health Minister Vaughan Gething added.
“The first milestone in our Vaccination Strategy set out that everyone in first four priority groups will have been offered their first dose appointment by mid-February.
“Not everyone in these groups will have attended their appointment yet, some will not have responded and some will have chosen not to have the vaccine.
“We would ask individuals to keep their appointments as allocated where possible.
“If people cannot attend their appointment for a genuine reason we ask them to let the health board know via the contact details provided in their invitation. The appointment can then be rearranged for a more convenient time or location.
“Once you have been vaccinated, you should continue to follow the guidance of staying at home, staying two metres apart, washing your hands and wearing a face covering to protect those around you.”
Commenting on the news Wales will achieve the milestone of offering everyone in the first four priority groups a vaccination by the end of this weekend, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said it was a “true British and Welsh success story”.
“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,” he said.
“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.”