THE health board have given an update on their Covid-19 booster rollout after postponing non-urgent operations, procedures and outpatient appointments at hospitals across North Wales.
All emergency surgery, urgent cancer treatment and maternity services will continue across the three main hospitals: Ysbyty Gwynedd, Glan Clwyd Hospital and Wrexham Maelor.
Over the last week BCUHB has seen a “huge increase” in the number of Covid-19 vaccines given out across North Wales.
Last week a record 66,000 jabs were administered including 24,000 over the weekend alone.
Dr Nick Lyons, executive medical director, said: “In the next few days our vaccination programme will ramp up even further as we aim to administer around 18,000 Covid-19 vaccines every day. Getting booster jabs into the arms of all eligible adults over the next 10 days is critical to protect each other and NHS services from the tidal wave of Omicron cases coming our way in January.
“I urge people to book online or attend one of our designated drop in clinics as soon as they can this week – don’t leave it until after Christmas – we have staff ready to vaccinate you. Getting your booster is the best Christmas present you can give yourself. The sooner you come forward, the sooner you will build your immunity. We will have significantly reduced capacity to deliver jabs during January – so its vital that you come forward as soon as possible.
“We’ve reluctantly taken the very difficult decision to postpone non-urgent operations, procedures and outpatient appointments and pause non-essential services to allow staff to be released to support the vaccination campaign. Many of our staff have voluntarily given up planned time off with their families over the festive period to ensure that we can meet this huge challenge.
“We are pulling out all the stops to make booster jabs available.
“Please make getting your booster a priority and come forward as soon as you possibly can.”
BCUHB said online booking is the best way to secure a jab and reduce queuing.
“Tens of thousands more appointments will be released on our online booking service in the coming days, as more of our hard working staff join the vaccination programme. Please keep checking our online booking service as new appointments are being released in batches,” added Dr Lyons.
“It is critical that if you have a booked appointment in December you keep to it. Don’t contact us to rearrange as this slows down our efforts to protect others. You will be waiting until January for an alternative.
“Booking online helps guarantee that you will receive your jab and reduces the time you have to queue. If you turn up at a clinic which isn’t a designated drop in and you haven’t booked an appointment online, you will face a lengthy queue and may be turned away. We will only be able to offer you a jab if we are running ahead of schedule and have sufficient vaccine supply and staffing.
“Those who book ahead using our online booking service will always be prioritised in queues.”
BCUHB is continuing to publicise designated drop in and ‘pop up’ mobile clinics online.
Dr Lyons said: “Depending on take up of appointments using our online booking service, we may open additional drop ins at specific sites. Details of these may be communicated at short notice online.”
Appeal to pregnant women
BCUHB is once again appealing to pregnant women to come forward for their Covid-19 vaccine. For any mother to be, getting their first, second and booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is one of the most important things they can do to protect themselves and their unborn baby against coronavirus and, particularly against the new omicron variant.
Dr Lyons said: “The number of pregnant women coming forward for their vaccine has been lower than we would like to be in North Wales and across the UK. This places mothers and their babies at risk.
“Based on the data about safety, together with the increased risk from Covid-19 the JCVI has advised that pregnant women should be considered as a clinical risk group.
“We strongly encourage all mothers to be to book an appointment for their first, second or booster dose using our online booking service as soon as possible.”