Welsh Government faces criticism over delayed Covid vaccination programme

The strategy for a slower rollout of the Covid vaccine in Wales isn’t clinically-wise, according to healthcare professionals.

Wales vaccinated a record number of 21,882 on Friday, but is still falling behind the rest of the UK.

The Welsh Government is facing criticism after announcing a slower rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Wales.

The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, announced this week that the deployment of tens of thousands of Pfizer vaccinations will be staggered over the coming weeks, rather than being used all at once.

Medical professionals, politicians and citizens awaiting their vaccine are expressing their concern over the decision.

Dr Eilir Hughes, a GP in north Wales, criticised the decision saying: “A strategy to hold it up is not ethical.”

He said: “We need to outsmart the virus by getting as many people as possible to start their vaccination journey.”

Business Manager at West Quay Medical Centre in Barry, Gareth Thomas said: “It doesn’t seem clinically-wise, it just doesn’t make sense.”

Mark Drakeford defended the decision saying:

“It would be logistically very damaging to try and use all of that in the first week and then have all our vaccinators standing around with nothing to do for another month.”

Wales will not receive more of the Pfizer vaccine until the end of this month or early February and is left with 250,000 doses to use over the next six weeks.

Wales has been provided with around 300,000 Covid vaccinations to date, with around 250,000 of these being the Pfizer vaccine and 50,000 the Oxford vaccine.

By Thursday, Wales had vaccinated just over 175,000 people, equivalent to 5.6% of its population. Therefore, falling behind the rest of the UK. However, Mark Drakeford dismissed this information saying it was a “marginal difference.”

Source: Our World in Data

Plaid Cymru’s leader, Adam Price reacted on Twitter saying: “When it comes to vaccination policy, saving lives is more important than saving stocks.”

Plaid Cymru later called an emergency question in which Vaughan Gething claimed the Welsh Government’s strategy was not the same as holding back supplies.

As concern grows over the number of vaccines GPs in Wales are receiving, a number of surgeries , including West Quay Medical Centre, disappointingly announced this week that they would only receive 50 of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, not 100 as promised.

Gareth Thomas said: “The clinical team are ready and waiting to deliver them in patients’ arms if we were provided enough supply.”

“GPs are crucial in getting the numbers up, so use us,” said Dr Eilir Hughes.

Mike O’Brien, who suffers from a long term health condition that affects the lungs said:

“When I first heard the announcement, I was very frustrated and angry as this means that both myself and my parents whom I care for will now likely have to wait longer to get our first dose.”

Seren Llewelyn, a Psychology student at Cardiff University works part-time as a support worker helping children with disabilities and is also awaiting her vaccine.

Seren said: “It’s frustrating that I’ll have to continue to work and put vulnerable children at a higher risk for longer.”

“The decision doesn’t make any sense. It should be a priority to vaccinate health care workers as fast as possible with the remaining doses,” she said.

Gareth Thomas said: “The anxieties of patients waiting for the vaccine should not be underestimated.”