By Iris Knapman | Contributor
As of Monday 8th March, 31.7% of the Welsh population – nearly one million (998,296) individuals –have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine, with further 5.8% (183,739) now being fully vaccinated against the virus – a higher percentage than other UK nations.
These promising figures seem to validate claims made by the Welsh government’s chief pharmaceutical officer, Andrew Evans, that Wales has and will “continue to lead” the vaccine rollout in the UK. More than twenty-one million people throughout the UK have received their first dose in accordance with the rollout plans of respective UK governments, with PM Boris Johnson hopeful that adults in all four nations should be offered the vaccine by 31st July.
Furthermore, a recent surge of vaccine supplies could spell good fortune on the COVID front. This comes after a planned supply reduction of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine over a two-week period in late February. Evans has expressed beliefs this will lead to an improved delivery rate in Wales, with the potential for more than 30,000 doses to be administered each day. Not only that, but this could lead to the opening of more vaccination centres. The Cardiff and Vale Health board has already revealed plans to open another mass vaccination centre and are currently searching for an appropriate location.
With the present circumstances, it is clear why Evans seems confident we are on target to offer priority groups five to nine by mid-April.
These priority groups come from the Welsh Government’s rollout plans, comprising a nine-tier priority list by which they will issue the vaccines. The list ranks various groups, considering their age and whether they are considered at-risk of the virus. Healthcare and social care workers also rank high due to the increased risk of exposure in their line of work.
The first top-priority group in the list includes elderly care-home residents the staff that care for them, followed by front-line healthcare and social care workers and individuals aged 80 years and over.
Succeeding group 2, group 3 includes those between 75 and 80, while group 4 covers both those 70 years and over and the clinically vulnerable between 16-69 years.
The fifth group to receive vaccination will be 65 years and over and then group 6 is for adults aged 16-69 considered at-risk as well as unpaid carers.
Finally, groups 7 to 9 span across various age groups of individuals without a risk condition.
Non-vulnerable individuals aged 16-49 will likely be the last to receive the vaccine.
On the topic of vaccine refusal, Evans was happy to report “very, very few people” were refusing the vaccine. “Our uptake rate is in excess of 90% for the older groups, in excess of 85% has we come down through those cohorts. There is very little vaccine hesitancy.”
Although this pandemic is far from over, it is reassuring to finally see these victories in the fight against COVID-19.