‘Real concerns’ over speed of vaccine deployment as Health Minister unveils ‘ambitious’ plan

Covid-19 vaccination. Picture by the Welsh Government.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething will today publish the Welsh Government’s Covid Vaccination Plan, as opposition parties raise concerns about the speed of the rollout.

The plan described as “ambitious” and “the biggest programme of its kind” by the Welsh Government will set out a series of milestones for when people will be offered a vaccine.

It comes as Wales will publish daily vaccination figures from today – more than 70,000 people had received their first dose of the Covid vaccine by the end of last week.

Both Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives have raised concerns over the speed of the vaccine rollout.

The Welsh Government has so far received 270,000 doses from the UK Government. Up to 3rd January 49,000 had been administered.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Andrew RT Davies called for a “vaccine army,” led by a Welsh Government Vaccine Minister.

“For weeks now we have been highlighting the slow rollout of the Covid vaccine in Wales and yet still the Welsh Government dither and delay,” he said.

“Instead of getting on and actually delivering what they need to do, we just get told that we need to be patient and this isn’t a sprint.

“The Welsh Government has the vaccine doses and they have the power to get it out to the people that need it the most. They’ve been caught off guard and yet still don’t seem to be in any rush.

“We need a Government Minister to have the single job of delivering their vaccine with the full resources of the Welsh Government alongside NHS Wales, GPs, Pharmacists and anyone else that can help. We need a vaccine army, backed up by our Armed Forces, to get the job done. We cannot afford any more delay.”

 

‘Public confidence’

In an open letter to the Health Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, health spokesperson for Plaid Cymru, also called for greater clarity on the vaccine deployment programme, in order to build public trust.

Mr ap Iorwerth raised “real concerns” over the pace, transparency and communications of the programme, and says that the public “simply want to know when they might expect the vaccine.”

He called for a dashboard of information that would allow the public to track progress for themselves, including volume of doses delivered and administered by health board and by priority group. He said it would “go far” in helping to restore public trust.

Using examples of international good practice, Mr ap Iorwerth asks whether the Health Minister would consider measures such as:

  • Vaccination centres open 7 days a week
  • The widespread availability of drive-through style vaccination centres
  • Reducing wastage by allowing prepared vaccines to be given on a ‘first come first served’ basis at the end of the day.

“There are real concerns about the vaccine deployment programme, not least regarding the pace, transparency and communications during these initial stages. People simply want to know when they might expect the vaccine,” Rhun ap Iorwerth said.

“Setting out targets in Welsh Government’s vaccination plan, and including a dashboard of information which answers questions around how the numbers of doses by health board and priority group, will go far in helping to build public trust, as they will be able to track progress for themselves.

“We have a short period of weeks before the damage of strict conditions, in particular school closures, become even more significant. We also currently have a virus infecting more people every week than are receiving the vaccine. Expanding the pace and scale of vaccination is thus essential, as is restoring public confidence that governments have a plan for winning this battle against the virus.”

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