Latest Covid-19 vaccine update from BCUHB: Progress, appeal to employees and variation in vaccination rates between local authority areas

ABOUT 70 per cent of adults in North Wales have now received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) say they remain on course to offer vaccination to the remaining adult population “well before” the Welsh Government’s end of July milestone.

Gill Harris, executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “We are continuing to work as quickly as we can with the supply we have and I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we continue to make good progress in working through this complex programme.”

Vaccination progress as at April 26 2021:

  1. 565,799 total vaccinations have been administered in North Wales
  2. First dose vaccines – 388,904
  3. Second dose vaccines – 176,895

Percentage of people in Priority Groups who have received a first dose:

  • People aged 65 to 69: 93 per cent
  • People aged 16 to 64 in an at risk group: 84 per cent
  • People aged 60 to 64: 88 per cent
  • People aged 55-59: 85 per cent
  • People aged 50-54: 83 per cent
  • People aged 40-49: 35 per cent
  • People aged 30-39: 9 per cent
  • People aged 18-29: 14 per cent

Who BCUHB are currently vaccinating and how they will be contacted

Ms Harris said: “This week we are continuing to provide vaccination to the following groups, with invitations made by letter, text message and phone call.

“People in Priority Groups 1-9 who were unable to receive their vaccination when it was first offered. This includes people aged 50+; people aged 16-64 with certain underlying health conditions; unpaid carers; and those living with people who are immunosuppressed”.

People aged 18-49 years (Priority Group 10)

Ms Harris said: “If you have any concerns about receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, please still attend your appointment so we can take the time to discuss these with you before you make a decision on whether or not to go ahead with vaccination.”

Second dose appointments

It is important people receive both doses of the vaccine in order to receive the best protection from Covid-19.

In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) there is currently an 11 week gap between administering first and second doses.

Ms Harris said: “We ask people to be patient in waiting for their second dose invitation. However, anyone who has been waiting more than eleven weeks for their second dose appointment should contact: Their GP if they received a first dose at a GP surgery; Our Covid-19 Vaccination Contact Centre on 03000 840004 if they received their first dose anywhere else.

“The lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm and Saturday to Sunday, 9am to 1pm.

“Please be patient and only call if it has been 11 weeks since your first dose and you have not yet had an appointment for your second.”

Advice for pregnant women and those planning pregnancy

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) updated their advice on April 16 2021, stating that all pregnant women should be offered the Covid-19 vaccine.

Ms Harris said: “There have been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of Covid-19 vaccines in relation to pregnancy and over 90,000 pregnant women in the United States have been safely vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

“Based on this data, we are following the JCVI’s advice to offer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to pregnant women in North Wales. We don’t expect to receive supplies of the Moderna vaccine until June.

“The JCVI currently advises that the greatest risk factor for severe outcomes from COVID-19 is age, which is why pregnant women are being invited for vaccination based on their age, unless they have a pre-existing condition that puts them in an at risk group (Priority Group 4 or 6).

“Women should continue to discuss the options of Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy with their Obstetrician, Midwife or GP.

“The JCVI advises that women who are planning pregnancy, are in the immediate postpartum period, or are breastfeeding can receive any vaccine, depending on their age and clinical risk group.

“Covid vaccines have been given to millions of women with no evidence of fertility problems. You can discuss any concerns you have about this with your healthcare professional.

“Further information on COVID-19 vaccines and fertility is available from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.”

Appeal to employers across North Wales

Ms Harris said: “We are appealing to employers across the region to be sympathetic to requests for their staff to take time off to attend vaccination appointments.

“Vaccination provides the best protection from becoming seriously ill with Covid-19, and it is our best route out of the pandemic.”

Variation in vaccination rates between local authority areas

“This week we’ve received a number of queries asking why the percentage of people aged 40-49 living in Flintshire who have received a first dose of the vaccine is much lower than elsewhere in North Wales,” Ms Harris said.

“This variation is a result of the population size of individual cohorts in each local authority area; the amount and type of vaccine received; and the need to offer an alternative first dose vaccine to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine to those aged under 30, in line with guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

“We ​can see from appointment bookings for the next few weeks that this variation will even out.”

Online Vaccination Question and Answer Sessions

“Please join one of our online Q&A session on May 5 to receive expert advice from health professionals and have your questions answered,” Ms Harris said.

“We welcome those who have had their vaccine to join us and share their views and experience with others, or if you’re nervous about the vaccine and want to know more about the side effects, then we can help answer and dispel those fears.

“We also know there is evidence of disproportionate mortality and morbidity amongst black, Asian and minority ethnic people, including our NHS staff, who have contracted COVID-19. We welcome those from different backgrounds and communities to join us.

“These events are being held in partnership with the North East and North West Community Cohesion team and BAWSO, a leading organisation in Wales supporting black minority ethnic communities.”

The session will be held via Zoom on May 5 from 6.30-7.30pm.

See BCUHB’s virtual Q&As on Covid-19 vaccine for more information.

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno