Health boards can offer walk-in vaccination to ‘mop up’ unused capacity says Mark Drakeford
The First Minister has sought to clear up confusion as to whether Wales will offer walk-in vaccines in order to ensure that as many people as possible are triple-jabbed against the Omicron variant before the new year.
Mark Drakeford said that the “main thrust” of their plan was to vaccinate people in order of clinical need, but that health boards were allowed to offer walk-in provision in order to “mop up” unused vaccines so that they did not go to waste.
His comments come after criticism that Wales was not allowing people to queue up for a booster as was happening in England.
“The Welsh Government continues to want to follow the advice of the JCVi which is that even with this rapidly accelerated booster campaign we should vaccinate people in clinical priority order,” Mark Drakeford said. “So that is the major thrust of how we will do things in Wales.
“However, in order not to allow appointments to go unfilled, health boards do have the ability to – the same system we’ve used all the way through – that you can call other people in, out of order, and sometime that will be through walk-in centres, to make sure that vaccinations aren’t standing with nobody to vaccinate.
“And this is all Pfizer vaccine that has been opened and needs to be used. So that is the basic system.
“But the main system – the appointment system – people are called in order, working our way down the clinical priority groups in order.
“There will be some spare capacity to mop up appointments that might otherwise go unused.”
Mark Drakeford was responding to a question by Plaid Cymru Senedd Member Llyr Gruffydd at the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister.
‘Get a chance’
His comments come after Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns criticised the lack of walk in centres in Wales compared to England.
“Local Health Boards are still using the Royal Mail to advise people of appointments in spite of Christmas post challenges, with many postal staff self-isolating,” he said.
“So many people across the NHS are working tirelessly. We need to ensure patients have the most efficient system to support them.”
Wales’ Health Minister has however criticised the use of walk-in centres in England, slamming what she called the “chaotic scenes” over the border, and saying that the Welsh Government “plan before we announce”.
Eluned Morgan added that Covid vaccination centres would be open from “early in the morning to late at night” in order to ensure that everyone was able to get the vaccine.
“We will be texting or phoning everyone whose number we have to offer them a booster appointment,” she said.
“We will be asking staff to cancel leave and work day and night over Christmas to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of weeks.
“Everyone will get a chance to get the booster vaccine before the peak of the wave reaches us.”