The second Covid-19 vaccine is being rolled out across Wales with at least 40,000 doses available within the first two weeks.
Last week, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency authorised the AstraZeneca vaccine as safe and effective following stringent clinical trials – three weeks after the Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was approved for use across the UK.
Vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers in Bridgend county borough will begin next week, with over-80s being contacted directly to invite them to attend their GP surgery for the vaccine.
People are asked not to phone their GP, pharmacy or hospital to see when they will get a vaccine. When someone is eligible for the vaccine, they will be invited to attend a dedicated clinic.
The new vaccine is stored at normal vaccine fridge temperatures, making it much easier to use in care homes and GP surgeries. Two doses will be needed, with an interval of between four and 12 weeks between them.
Within Bridgend county borough, preparations are continuing to support the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, with clinics being set up. More information will be publicised about these shortly.
Council leader Huw David said: “Residents will be contacted when their time comes. Please do not contact your GP, hospital or local pharmacy and add unnecessary pressures to their workload.
“When someone is in one of the groups eligible for the vaccine, they will be invited to attend a dedicated clinic which will have been set up to ensure patient safety and that of the healthcare professionals.
“People can choose whether they have the vaccine or not – residents will receive information about the jab to help them make up their mind if they have any concerns.
“Correspondence will come from the local health board and the vaccine is free of charge through the NHS. People are warned to be alert to scams asking for money or personal information.
“The effects of the vaccines may not be seen nationally for many months and the advice on keeping Wales safe remains the same for everyone – keep contacts with others to a minimum, keep a two-metre distance from others, wash hands regularly, wear a face covering where required and avoid touching surfaces others have touched, wherever possible.
“We will still need to abide by the rules for some time yet in order to protect our friends, neighbours, colleagues and families.”
Across Wales, people have been grouped within nine priority groups. The first to receive the vaccine will be care home residents and staff, of which there are approximately 40,250.
These will be followed by people aged 80 and over, and frontline health and social care workers (around 326,000 people).
The next priority groups will be people aged 75 and over (126,800), those who are clinically vulnerable and aged between 16-69 (247,300), and people who are 65 and over (167,150).
Adults aged 16-64 classed within an at-risk group will be next (321,400), then people who are aged 60+ (125,900), 55+ (150,600) and 50 or more (162,850).
The last group to be vaccinated will be people aged 16-49, of which there are almost 1.1 million.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended that as many people as possible in the top priority groups should be offered a first vaccine dose at a time when coronavirus is still spreading in Wales.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “In less than a month Wales’ NHS has mobilised the largest vaccination programme our country has ever seen and so far more than 35,000 people have received their first dose.
“Now, only five days since regulatory approval of the new vaccine for use in the UK, a second is here and ready for use, significantly adding to Wales’ defences in the face of coronavirus and protecting our most vulnerable.”
Senior Responsible Officer for Wales’ Covid-19 Vaccine Programme Dr Gillian Richardson said: “It is fantastic news that there is now a second vaccine to help protect our communities’ most vulnerable from the harms of Covid-19.
“Pace will be governed by supply, which will start slowly this week but build vastly over the coming weeks and months. However, vaccinations are happening in GP surgeries from today and we will also see an increase in our vaccination centres over the course of this month.”