Mark Drakeford: Wales is ready to rollout COVID-19 booster jabs this autumn
Wales is ready to rollout boosters of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as UK government advisors give the go ahead, the First Minister confirmed today.
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advisory group is currently considering whether a third dose the vaccine should be rolled out to certain groups across the UK this autumn.
In June the advisory body published interim guidance recommending that the booster campaign starts in September to reduce any further incidence of Covid-19 and maximise protection in those who are most vulnerable to serious infection, ahead of the winter months.
It comes after new research found that protection from two doses of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines begins to wane within six to eight months.
If given the green light by the JCVI it is expected that those with weakened immune systems will be offered a third dose as part of a “targeted” booster plan.
At a Welsh Government press conference this afternoon First Minister Mark Drakeford said “the NHS here in Wales will be ready to begin to implement it” should the booster rollout be given the go ahead.
Mr Drakeford said: “We expect the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation to confirm the arrangements for the autumn booster campaign as emerging evidence from Israel shows that the effectiveness of vaccines may start to decrease after about eight months.
“That makes getting a booster job this autumn very important.
“We’ll be sending out the invitations, as soon as the announcement by the JCVI is made and our NHS has put itself in a position to make sure that it can start the program as soon as we get the go ahead.
“At the same time the four chief medical officers of the UK continue to discuss and take further expert evidence about whether the vaccine should be available to 12 to 18 year olds.
“We’re expecting a decision about that next week and if the rollout is confirmed, the NHS here in Wales will be ready to begin to implement it.”
He also urged people to come forward for vaccination if they not yet done so, noting that many of those people hospitalised with the virus are under the age of 30 and who have not been vaccinated.
2,365,268 people across Wales have now received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with 2,196,957 people now fully vaccinated.
More recently the vaccination rollout has opened up to 16-17 year olds, 12-15-year-olds with specific underlying health conditions and children and young people aged 12 to 17 living with immunosuppressed adults.
Mr Drakeford said: “Our vaccination program continues to be one of the best in the world.
“Over 90 per cent of people have had their first dose of the vaccine and 74 per cent of the whole of the Welsh adult population have had two doses.
“We’ve made really good progress in vaccinating 16 and 17 year olds, and more than two thirds of them have already had their first stops.
“These are really impressive figures, they are a real testament to the hard work of the thousands of people involved in the program.
“But there are still thousands of people who could be vaccinated who haven’t yet had the vaccine and therefore are even more at risk of catching coronavirus.
“We know many of those who are being admitted to our hospitals are people who have not been vaccinated and many of those are young people under the age of 30.
“It is never too late to be vaccinated in Wales. If you haven’t done so, please take this important step to protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated.”
You can book an appointment to be vaccinated in Wrexham and across North Wales on the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board website, here.
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