Booster jab ramp up – North Wales health board needs to more than double number of people it vaccinates daily
What impact the new Omicron variant will have is still unknown but early data suggests it could be the most transmissible form of the virus
The World Health Organization has advised countries to take precautions to limit its impact, in response the UK is expanding the COVID vaccine booster programme.
The health board in North Wales has said it is putting plans in place to “significantly ramp” the vaccination programme following the decision by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), Four Nations and Welsh government to protect people more quickly.
The new JCVI advice means third doses – boosters – will now be available to adults three months after their second vaccination, before this the gap was six months.
It also means all people over 18 will be offered a third dose by the end of January 2022, prioritisation will start with those oldest and descend in bands of five years.
At the same time, second doses will be offered to 12 to 15-year-olds and fourth doses to people who are immunosuppressed.
A second COVID vaccine dose is already being offered to 16-17 year olds.
Ramping up the booster programme in North Wales will present the health board with a “massive challenge” as it needs to find enough staff to deliver a huge increase in the number of jabs needed to maximise the immunity of people in the region.
Currently the health board says it is delivering around 30,000 jabs a week – around 6 per second – but it will need to “more than double” that to hit the new target, Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board’s Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Gill Harris said in her weekly vaccine rollout update.
Our maths indicates that might not be the case, and the health board could mean 6 per minute.
“This presents us with a massive challenge in terms of finding enough vaccinators, support staff and facilities to make this happen.” She said.
“We are now putting plans in place to bring in the resources we need to manage this increase in activity.”
To date, the health board have given over 190, 000 jabs since the booster programme started, which is about 22 per cent of all boosters delivered in Wales.
Of the 30, 000 additional appointments it is aiming to provide each week, BCUHB says plans are already place to deliver 8,000 a week from January.
Gill Harris asked people not to contact the Health Board or their GP as “we will continue to contact them directly when it is their turn to be vaccinated.”
“We are currently offering vaccinations from 8am to 8pm, covering 7 days a week across North Wales.” She said.
As part of BCUHB’s approach, consideration is being given on how to extend those hours.
“We already have 129 lanes in operation, delivering around 30,000 jabs a week and we are aiming to double this rate.”
“We currently have 164 whole time equivalent staff delivering this huge vaccination programme, but need more in order to accelerate our efforts.”
“More of our staff are stepping forward to support and we are working with partners to increase the number further.”
Patients who are housebound can request a jab at home, the Astra Zeneca vaccine has recently been authorised for use in this group, “which will allow us to speed up delivery.” Gill Harris said.
“There is no need to contact us – as above, we are working through our lists and will contact individuals to make arrangements when it is their turn to be vaccinated.”
Supporting the COVID-19 vaccination delivery.
BCHUB’s workforce to administer COVID-19 jabs has reduced by around 50 per cent compared to the initial rollout.
With the need to now significantly increase capacity “we are stepping up what was already an intensive recruitment campaign to bring in more vaccinators and vaccination support staff.” Gill Harris said.
“We are also reaching out to our own staff who can help to support the programme. Once fully trained, new staff are being deployed to our existing sites – increasing the number of people that can be vaccinated on a daily basis.”
“We are also hoping to welcome more community pharmacies to the rollout. This has the potential to improve access to the vaccine for people who currently have to travel longer distances to get to a vaccination site.” she said.
To manage the increased activity more sites are being identified which will be used to deliver vaccinations from.
‘This is something we will be speaking to our local authority partners about, for example, in the coming days and weeks as we continue to work together in partnership to protect our communities across North Wales.” Gill Harris said.
Demand for support from the COVID-19 Vaccination Contact Centre increase “significantly since we started our booster vaccination campaign.” Gill Harris said.
“At times, this has meant people have either had longs waits or not been able to reach staff at the Contact Centre.”
“We want to remind people that only first and second doses can be booked through our Contact Centre. For any other vaccinations, such as boosters, people will be contacted directly when it is their turn.”
“To help us answer as many calls as possible we are now looking for more people to support our Contact Centre, which can now be done from home. We will soon be advertising opportunities to do this through our channels and would appreciate any support you can provide to help us reach as many people as possible.” She said.
The Contact Centre can be reached on 03000 840004. The lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm and Saturday to Sunday, 9am to 2pm. Lines can be very busy
Drop in clinics for those aged 12-15.
An up-to-date list of drop in clinics to allow those aged 12-15 to receive a first dose is available on our website here.
“Please remember that even if you have had COVID-19 it is still recommended that you come forward for your first dose.” Gill Harris said.
“Those under 18 who have recently had the virus should ideally wait 12 weeks until they get their vaccination, unless they are in a group that is at greater risk of serious illness.”
“We want young people to make an informed decision about vaccination, based on up to date information available from trusted sources. A good place to start is the Public Health Wales COVID-19 Vaccination Guide for Children and Young People, which can be found on our website.” She said.
Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com