A Conservative Senedd Member has called for religious leaders to be given priority access to Covid vaccinations.
Darren Millar, who is himself an accredited religious minister, said that they should be classed as key workers and be among the key workers prioritised for vaccines as they carry out crucial work including pastoral care, spiritual care and funerals.
The politician has tabled a written question to the Welsh Government asking what consideration this has been given.
He said: “Ministers of religion and celebrants carry out vitally important work in the communities they serve but have been severely hampered as a result of the pandemic.
“They have been unable to visit sick people in hospital or parishioners in care homes for the great majority of 2020 and as a result many people have been unable to receive the comfort and spiritual support they have needed.
“They have also been unable to visit homes following bereavements to discuss funerals and provide support to those who have lost loved ones to Covid and other illnesses.”
Ahead of the latest Wales’ Covid-19 vaccination figures to be released tomorrow, the Shadow Minister for Health – Andrew RT Davies MS – has outlined a Welsh Conservative approach to the rollout of the vaccine.
Mr Davies said that while publication of numbers of people vaccinated are vital, the Welsh Labour-led Government must detail targets – and stick to them.
“We’ve had months and months of sadly depressing statistics detailing the number of infections and the tragic numbers of deaths because of this virus, and it’s time we here in Wales had something to offer a bit of reassurance to us,” he said.
“So, I’m calling on this Welsh Labour-led Government to publish targets for the vaccination programme, a daily tally of those that have had the vaccine, and a daily tally of those discharged and recovering from Covid.
“Targets mean you are working towards something, because saying you want to vaccinate all 3.15 million people in Wales is just too vague. Let’s have daily vaccination targets and stats to see how they have been met, missed, or – and I’m being optimistic here – exceeded.
“Whether you’re one of our brilliant NHS employees working on the frontline of dispensing the vaccine, a vulnerable person shielding, or a school pupil eager to get back into the classroom, daily targets and results will let you know how close we are to getting the better of the virus. And if the targets are not achieved, then this gives people the facts about how the administration here is letting them down.”
Mr Davies said that similar targets have been set up in other parts of the UK, and added:
“And so, we are repeating our call for the role of Vaccination Minister to be established in Wales, as has been in the UK, to take overarching control of the rollout of this life-saving programme here, to establish targets for it, and to be held account for it.
“It’s a job of national importance, and the First Minister must make this appointment now.”