The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will be rolled out in the New Year in Wales, but there are warnings that it will take months to see the impact on our daily lives.
The coronavirus vaccine is the second to be given approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK. Following the news of its approval on Wednesday morning, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the vaccine will be rolled out in Wales in the New Year.
The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine – enough to vaccinate 50 million people. Wales is part of the UK procurement scheme, meaning it will get a population share of the jab from the UK Government. England’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, said rollout would begin on January 4.
Mr Drakeford said: “Very pleased that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been given the go-ahead. Over 25,000 vaccines have already been administered in Wales and this second vaccine will start to be rolled out here in the New Year.”
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Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething urged people to remember the impact of the vaccine would not be seen for a few months yet.
“I would be delighted if we had population coverage by Easter, but when you think about the scale of what we need to do, I wouldn’t want to give out false hope that everything will be done and dusted by Easter,” he said.
“We understand there are high expectations and excitement at the arrival of a second vaccine. However, it will take time to reach everyone as this is not an instant fix.
“We won’t receive all the doses at once and we have to be realistic about the scale and pace of delivery when we are vaccinating the entire adult population.
“We will not see the impact of the vaccine for some months and the pressure on the NHS will continue during this winter. It is essential that we all continue to play our part and do the right thing to protect each other.”
He also reminded people of the priority list for those to be vaccinated, following calls that teachers and other emergency service staff like police should be higher up on the priority list.
Speaking to BBC Radio Wales this morning, Mr Gething added: “We have a very clear list of prioritisation in the greatest need. Those are people in care homes, people over the age of 80, and frontline health and social care staff, and they are the first group that are priority
“As we go through, we will have more people able to come forward and that is really about protecting people who deliver those essential frontline services in our health and care system that as you know are under a significant strain and pressure.
“There is a much greater risk to those people working in those sectors of actually getting Covid and coming to harm and that then is also true about the rest of the population so we’ve got people in care homes and over 80, who are much more likely to come to significant harm.
“So we are vaccinating those people first because that is how we will save the maximum number of lives and that has to be the right approach.
“This is a huge enterprise to deliver every adult in the population a vaccine and we have to have a set of priorities that are objective and are actually about how we save the maximum number of lives.”
Mr Gething urged people to wait until they were contacted to get their vaccine and to not get in touch with their GP or pharmacy beforehand.
Earlier this week, Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), described the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as a “game changer” but said he would not expect wider community herd immunity from vaccination until the summer.