Health minister accused of 'misleading' after figures show under quarter of Wales' over-80s vaccinated

  • Watch the health minister's claim to Senedd members

Wales' health minister has been accused of "misleading" people after figures revealed fewer than a quarter of over-80s have been vaccinated against coronavirus.

Public Health Wales data - which shows that 23.9 per cent of over-80s have been jabbed - contradicts a claim made by the health minister earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Vaughan Gething told Senedd members that he believed Wales had vaccinated "the majority" of its over-80s population.

He also said he "expects" Wales to vaccinate 70 per cent of that age group by the weekend.

During the plenary session, he said: "When it comes to where we are, I don't just hope we'll have reached seven in 10 care home residents and staff by the weekend, I don't just hope we'll have reached 70 per cent of the over-80s by the end of the weekend, I expect us to do so.

"And I can say that my current understanding is that we have already managed to do so for the majority of our over-80s population."

Just 23.9% of the over-80s have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, figures by Public Health Wales show Credit: PA

But the figures said a total of 43,879 over-80s out of the 183,394 in people in that age group have received the jab.

Public Health Wales also confirmed that 56.4% of care home residents had received their first jab, totalling 9,364 out of 16,602, while 67.5% of care home staff had been vaccinated.

In response to the gap between the health minister's claim and the figures, a Welsh Government spokesperson said Public Health Wales publishes a "snapshot" of data that "does not reflect the total".

They said, "Ministers have access to operational data and management information that gives them a detailed picture of the vaccine rollout across Wales.

"Public Health Wales publishes a daily snapshot of data sent to them from vaccination centres and GP surgeries by 10pm the previous day.

"This data does not reflect the total of number of people vaccinated due to delays in data entry and verification."

It has prompted criticism of the health minister, with Plaid Cymru calling for "clarity and assurance he has a grip on the rollout."

Leader Adam Price said: "We need an urgent clarification from the health minister as to whether the Senedd was misled this week. "Far from being a sprint, the vaccine rollout is proving a false start and the minister needs to take a grip and quickly."

Welsh Conservatives shadow health minister Andrew RT Davies said "mistakes can be made", but has reiterated calls for a dedicated vaccines minister.

He added: "The health minister must make an urgent statement to clarify the number of over-80s that have received a vaccine in Wales and if necessary correct the record."

On Thursday, figures showed for the first time that more people in Wales had received the first dose of the vaccine than those who have been diagnosed with the virus.

As of January 21, Public Health Wales said 190,435 vaccinations have been carried out. A total of 180,035 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed since the start of the pandemic.

On Monday, the First Minister also told ITV News that he believed, from memory, that 40 per cent of over-80s had been vaccinated.

On Wednesday, the Welsh Government said that more than 10,000 people were receiving their first dose of the vaccine in Wales each day - equivalent to seven people being vaccinated every minute.

Mr Gething told a press conference that the vaccination would "move up another gear" this week, with increased supplies of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine expected.

He said this meant more over-80s, as well as those living and working in care homes, would be vaccinated in GP practices and by community nurses in mobile units.

A further 60,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be provided for use in mass vaccination centres this week, he added.

But Mr Gething warned people not to expect a "significant easing" of coronavirus rules when they are formally reviewed by the Welsh Government by January 29.

Wales entered Level 4 restrictions - a national lockdown - on December 20.