Cwmbran doctor among first to receive Covid-19 vaccination in Wales

  • Watch Rob Osborne's report on the vaccine rollout in Wales.

A Welsh doctor who was one of the first people in the world to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, says he hopes the vaccine would bring about an "end game" for coronavirus.

As rollout begins across Wales and the rest of the UK, Dr Gareth Oelmann said he has witnessed the sacrifice of his patients in Cwmbran.

More than 6,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine will be given to people in Wales by the end of this week, according to the Welsh Government.

Every health board in Wales will begin administering the vaccine on Tuesday - dubbed 'V-Day' by England's health secretary Matt Hancock - making it one of the first countries to start protecting people against Covid-19.

Dr Oelmann said it was "nice" to be one of the first, but stressed the importance of others getting the jab.

He added: "Being a GP, I've seen the sacrifice, I've seen the loss, and to actually be doing something positive that could control the pandemic is important for everyone.

"Looking at the bigger picture, as society and the public have protected themselves over the last months, this is the next stage. This is the endgame."

Wales became one of the first countries to receive and store the Pfizer vaccine after the first shipment was delivered in Wrexham ahead of the nationwide roll-out on Tuesday.

90-year-old Margaret Keenan from Northern Ireland became the first person to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Credit: ITV News

In the first wave of vaccine deliveries, Wales will receive almost 40,000 doses - enough for nearly 20,000 people.

After an initial dose, a second jab must be given 21 days later.

The vaccine has been shown to be 95 per cent effective against the virus, and works across all age groups, including the elderly.

Among the first people to receive it in the UK will be the over-80s, care home staff and health workers, with the eventual aim of vaccinating millions of people against coronavirus.

The roll-out comes days after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in the UK.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said people in Wales must continue following social distancing guidelines.

"2020 has been a very difficult year for all of us. This vaccine is a small glimmer of light at the end of what has been a long and dark tunnel," he said.

"But the fact we have a vaccine does not mean we can stop doing those things that keep us safe.

"We must all continue to do our bit to prevent the spread of coronavirus: regular hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a face covering where required to protect yourself and others."

Wales currently has the worst coronavirus infection rates in the UK. Credit: PA Images

The vaccine comes as Wales sees its highest ever number of coronavirus-related patients in hospitals - 1,800 in total.

It also has the worst infection rate in the UK, just four weeks after the end of the country's 17-day firebreak lockdown.

In addition, Wales was the only UK nation not to see falling Covid rates in the final week of November.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said this was due to the fact England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were placed under tighter restrictions at the time.

He added that the vaccine's development in less than a year was a "remarkable tribute" to scientists around the world, and said he would be getting it when he could.

"Vaccines can take many years, even decades, to develop," Mr Gething said.

"The fact that a safe and effective vaccine has been developed in less than year is a remarkable tribute to all scientists and researchers around the world who have worked so hard to find a vaccine for Covid-19.

"We have been working really hard to plan for its arrival. Today, the first people in Wales will receive the vaccine. This is the positive news we have all been waiting for.

"We will now do everything we can to ensure we successfully deliver the Covid-19 vaccine across Wales in the days, weeks and months ahead."

A critical care consultant has warned that the vaccine is "just the first step", and not an excuse to break coronavirus rules. She received her first dose of the vaccine this morning.

Dr Ami Jones, who works for the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, received her first dose of the vaccine on Tuesday morning.

She said: "This is a very long and dark tunnel we're trying to get to the end of and this is just the first step.

"People have got to keep their guard up. That's going to be difficult with Christmas, but if we don't keep our guard up and obey the rules, we're really going to pay for it in January."