Health chief rejects concerns over care home vaccine roll-out
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
Health chiefs remain adamant that all care home residents will be vaccinated by the end of the month despite concerns over supply in parts of the north west.
According to politicians in Gwynedd, some care homes have still not received the vaccine despite their elderly residents being listed by the Welsh Government as top priority for inoculation.
“They have had several months to prepare and plan for this, so one would hope their systems were sufficiently robust to accommodate some teething problems,” said Mabon ap Gwynfor, a Denbighshire county councillor and prospective Plaid Cymru candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd.
“Currently vaccines are distributed based on population figures. However, I’d urge Welsh Government and the local health board in Gwynedd to ensure higher volumes of the vaccine are sent to areas with a greater number of elderly and vulnerable people who are at greater risk from the virus.”
He added, “It only takes one infected case to enter a home for the virus to potentially spread like wildfire, which is why care homes have rightly been identified as first-in-line to receive the vaccine.’
‘Therefore, questions need to be asked as to why some care homes in Gwynedd are still waiting for the first vaccine.
“There is an understandable urgency to roll-out the vaccine, but it needs to be done in an organised way so that we can be certain that those identified as being at greater risk are vaccinated as soon as possible.”
But in response, the board’s executive director of public health remains adamant that all care home residents will have received their first jab by the end of the month.
“The initial supply of vaccinations to the West of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has caused some logistical problems with commencing our programme, but vaccines have now been allocated for all the nursing and residential homes in the locality,” said Teresa Owen.
“All care home residents in north Wales will be vaccinated by the end of January.
“We appreciate the anxiety felt by the public and the desire to be vaccinated as soon as possible. To help keep people up-to-date with the vaccination programme, every household in North Wales will receive a letter this week.
“This will explain in more detail the list of priority groups that will be vaccinated first, how they will be contacted and other useful information.”
Meanwhile, the board has now published a list of the planned local vaccination centres for the area, which will compliment the mass vaccination centre at Ysbyty Enfys in Bangor.
However, people are also being urged not to contact their GPs directly or to attend a vaccination centre unless they have been contacted and provided with an appointment.
Set to begin vaccinating later in the delivery phase, the initial priority is to provide vaccinations in partnership with primary care providers, and on main acute hospital sites and the said mass vaccination centres.
Liz Saville Roberts MP added, “People are seeking assurance that the Covid vaccination roll-out in the most southerly and rural region of Betsi Cadwaladr’s area will be without delay, fair and according to need.
“Because all the hospital vaccination centres and mass vaccination centres are located along the northern coast, my office will continue to press for details on distribution timelines and the availability of vaccinators throughout south Gwynedd.
“Local GPs and surgery staff are working heroically to get vaccinations to high priority people. Betsi managers need to ensure that rurality and demographics are factored into their planning to back up surgeries.’
‘Plans to invite pharmacists, dentists and other professionals qualified to administer vaccinations to help should be fast-tracked.’
“I understand that military personnel are readied to help the health board with distribution and would urge Betsi senior officers to prepare to make best use of their services, especially in the event of wintery weather in coming months.”
Planned Local Vaccination Centres (Anglesey and Gwynedd):
- Plas Arthur Leisure Centre, Llangefni
- Bala Leisure Centre
- Bro Dysynni Leisure Centre, Tywyn
- Dolgellau Leisure Centre
- Blaenau Ffestiniog Community Centre
- Porthmadog Leisure Centre
- Pwllheli Leisure Centre
- Ganolfan Nefyn
- Caernarfon Tennis Centre