Covid: All eligible adults will be offered booster jab by end of January

  • ITV Cymru Wales report by Adrian Masters

All eligible adults across Wales will be offered their booster vaccine by the end of January 2022.

NHS Wales has already started to ramp up the booster programme and is currently administering more than 19,000 vaccinations a day.

The Health Minister made the announcement today and health boards will provide more vaccination centres in easy access locations, including walk-in and drive-through clinics with longer opening hours.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Welsh Government aims to give out more than 200,000 booster doses per week.

GPs and community pharmacies will continue to deliver the vaccine. The military have also been asked for their support.

The announcement comes almost one year since the first Covid-19 vaccination was given in Wales; 8 December 2020.

People will continue to be called in priority order of age and vulnerability.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “The development and the roll-out of these vaccines has been a truly remarkable achievement.

“Thanks to an unprecedented global effort, we have several successful, effective and safe vaccines and have reached the vast majority of our population.

“However, the vaccines become less effective over time so it’s really important that people come forward to have a booster when invited to extend their protection.”

The Minister added: “With high levels of the Delta variant in the community and the emergence of the Omicron variant, you can continue to disrupt the transmission of the virus by wearing a face covering in indoor public places, getting tested, self-isolating when positive and getting vaccinated.”

Dr Gill Richardson, Wales' deputy chief medical officer, asked employers to allow staff time off to get a vaccine, and patients to avoid cancelling their appointments.

“For many people working in the vaccination centres, their annual leave has been cancelled and their Christmas plans changed or disrupted as we do everything we can to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible,” she said.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Wales Health Minister Eluned Morgan, she said: “Of course, for many this will be the second Christmas they have spent vaccinating people.

“Please support them by prioritising and turning up for your appointment -if you can’t make it, please re-arrange the appointment.”

Dr Richardson said people will now be able to reschedule their appointment via a new text message system.

Baroness Morgan described a vaccine as “the best Christmas present you can give yourself and your family,” adding: “Just say yes to the vaccine, and remember it is never too late to be vaccinated.”

One Welsh GP said different health boards will face different challenges in reaching the Government's targets of administering more than 200,000 booster doses per week.

Dr Eilir Hughes, who works on Anglesey, said: "In more urban areas, you might just need three large spaces and you'll get people through... Whereas in more rural areas, with the sparsity of population, it's difficult to get those venues up and running that can take a good volume of people.

"And myself from north Wales, we've got the sort of rural challenge here and it's going to be quite a challenge to get it out to people's arms as quickly as possible in their communities."

Dr Hughes also highlighted that it is going to take time to train up students and other emergency service personnel who will be enlisted into helping administer jabs.

He added that there is a "good chance" booster Covid vaccines will become an annual part of normal life - like the yearly flu vaccination programme.

"We know that the booster vaccine, third dose, makes a huge difference to the level of immunity that's achieved," said the GP.

"It really does ramp up your antibody level in your bloodstream. And we hope that that happens over a period of time so that we don't then have to bring in a fourth dose as soon as we've had to do the booster on this occasion.

"You have a flu job annually and that's designed by the most prominent strain that's circulating. There is a chance that, particularly these mRNA [Covid] vaccines, that we could achieve a similar program."