All over-18s in Wales to be offered a Covid vaccine by the start of next week

  • Catch up with Monday's Welsh Government press conference

All over-18s will be offered a Covid vaccine by the start of next week - six weeks ahead of schedule, the Welsh Government has announced.

Wales expects to reach 75% take-up for first jabs across all priority groups and age groups a month ahead of target. The original milestone was the end of July.

The latest figures, published today, show 2.18m people - or 86% of the adult population - have had a first dose, and almost 1.25m people have had a second dose.  

Take-up is higher than 90% for first doses in all people over 60, in healthcare workers, care home residents and staff, and those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, the Welsh Government said.

First Minister Mark Drakeford called it "a remarkable achievement" while Health Minister Eluned Morgan said no one will be "left behind".

The focus will now move to maximising vaccine coverage for all by ensuring everyone receives a second dose by September.

Mr Drakeford said: “I am very proud to say that Wales has one of the best Covid vaccination programmes in the world.

“We will make the offer of vaccination to all eligible adults six weeks ahead of schedule and we expect to reach 75% take-up across all priority groups and age groups a month ahead of target.

“This is a remarkable achievement and a tribute to the hard work of all those involved in the programme – to all those doing the complex work of planning behind the scenes and to the thousands of people vaccinating and helping to run the clinics across the country.

“You are doing a fantastic job. I am incredibly proud and thankful for everything you are doing to help protect Wales from this awful virus.”

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for us in children over 12 years old. Credit: PA Images

Health Minister Eluned Morgan added: “The success of our programme in Wales lies in the supply arrangements we have developed; in our determination to use every drop of vaccine – not to waste any and to store the vaccine in people’s arms, rather than in fridges.

“As we complete first doses, we will be re-doubling our efforts to make sure no one is left behind.

“Subject to vaccine supply, we are confident the delivery of second doses will continue to be as fast and successful as first doses. 

“We expect all those who have come forward for their first dose to be offered a second dose by the end of September.”

An updated Vaccine Strategy is being published today, which sets out the next steps for the vaccination programme, including minimising inequalities.

The Welsh Government said it highlights the importance of second doses, especially as the new Delta variant - formerly known as the Indian variant - is spreading in parts of the UK.

It also sets out the steps Wales is taking to prepare for any decisions by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about booster jabs and vaccinating children.

Last week, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) last week approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in children over 12.

Organised outdoor events like concerts and football matches are now allowed with limited attendees. Credit: PA Images

From today (Monday), more people will be allowed to meet informally outdoors and up to three households will be able to join together as a ‘bubble’ under changes to Wales’ Covid restrictions.

Organised outdoor events like concerts and football matches will also be allowed to go ahead with up to 4,000 people unseated and 10,000 seated.

But concerns over the Delta - or Indian - variant of the virus means that other restrictions, which it was hoped were to be lifted, will now have to wait for a further two weeks.

Speaking at the Welsh Government's weekly press conference, Mark Drakeford said Wales won't be lifting every restriction from 21st June even if England does, citing concerns around the Delta variant and the "inevitability" of a third wave.

Although a third wave is "guaranteed" to happen in Wales, Mr Drakeford said, current data suggests it will be more manageable than the first and second waves.

He told journalists: "It's not if it happens - it's how and when it happens.

"The good news at the moment is that all the modelling shows that when that third wave happens, the peak of it will be so much lower than it was in the first and second waves; that our NHS will not be overwhelmed by it, and that we will manage it without the need for the very blunt instruments of firebreaks and lockdowns of the sort that were required earlier in the global crisis.

"That does depend, though, on us continuing to suppress the virus as much as we can, and maximising the protection the vaccination offers."

Meanwhile, the latest figures from Public Health Wales show one new death has been reported today, along with 75 new cases of coronavirus.

Before today, Wales had gone ten days in a row without recording any coronavirus deaths.

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