By Tirion Davies | Editor-in-Chief
Vaccine supplies across Wales are set to drop in the next few weeks due to the temporary closure of four vaccination centres, says First Minister Mark Drakeford.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board has announced they will stop vaccinations at four of its vaccination centers for a minimum period of a fortnight. Politicians have speculated this is because of a fall in the supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Wales.
It is said that other vaccination centers across Wales are also due to reduce their hours, though the information has not yet been released as to which centers these may be.
In an address, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford noted that the drop in supply from Pfizer/BioNTech was expected and that the Welsh Government has already worked with the NHS in Wales to accommodate.
The Welsh Government confirmed that this reduction in supply is not exclusive to Wales and that vaccination centers across the UK will be affected by this news.
After receiving backlash at the beginning of the vaccination process for being too slow, Wales has become the first UK nation to have given the first dose to 20 percent of the population, as reported by Public Health Wales.
Wales is currently on-course to meet its mid-February target of offering all over-70s the vaccine, as well as care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
Mark Drakeford told a Senedd committee, “We know that we are going to get less vaccine over the next few weeks than we have over the past few weeks.
“That was planned for and known for and is accommodated in our plans which remain to complete the vaccination of those next five priority groups by the Spring.”
What is happening in my area?
Officials have stated they are also anticipating fewer doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which have been predominantly delivered in GP services, as opposed to vaccination centers. There is a hope that the level of AstraZeneca vaccines will return to recent levels around the beginning of March.
It is up to health boards across Wales to determine how the vaccine will be delivered over the coming weeks, although many mass-vaccination services have already noted they are likely to change their opening times to reflect the reduction in supply.
It is noted, however, that officials have significant stocks of the Pfizer vaccine to be able to significantly increase the number of second doses administered. Those who initially had their first dose of the vaccine in December are now due to receive a second dose in the coming weeks.
Why is the reduction occurring?
Health officials have claimed the reduction in supply over the next two weeks was planned so that manufacturers are able to ramp up the vaccination process and increase the number of vaccines available going into March.
The delivery of 103,000 additional doses is expected this week, able to push the second doses of those who are due to complete their vaccinations.
It is reported that 108,000 is expected to be given out next week, although numbers will then begin to rise in coming weeks from 160,000 to 190,000 as expected.
It was also announced by the BBC on February 10 that Wales was seeing “Encouraging signs” that COVID-19 cases in the nation were beginning to fall.
Chief Executive of NHS Wales, Andrew Goodall, said at the time that rates of the virus in the community were “significantly down” from where they had previously been in December. Over a similar period, it was reported by Public Health Wales that the number of hospital patients with COVID-19 had fallen by around a quarter.
The Office for National Statistics figures indicated on the week ending February 7, Wales was experiencing the second week of falling death rates, although noted positive COVID-19 cases remained reasonably high at the same period.
The Welsh Government insists if you are called for a vaccine, you should continue to go to your appointment.