Bayside Mass Vaccination Centre, Cardiff, where walk-in booster vaccines are not currently offered

Walk-in lanes for boosters announced for Wales

Health minister wants to ‘avoid the chaotic scenes seen in England’

CHANGES to how Wales will deliver Covid booster vaccines were announced today, including the introduction of walk-in lanes and a redeployment of NHS staff.

 “We will be redeploying all available clinical staff to vaccination centres,” said Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, at a press conference this afternoon.

“We will be asking them to work in existing mass vaccination centres which will be expanded to their maximum capacity,” she said.

“Many of the centres will be expanded to have dedicated walk-in lanes and we will be targeting these walk-in slots at particular groups of people.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced last night that every adult in Wales will be offered a booster jab by the end of December 2021, instead of the previous target of January 2022.

He said: “Please make getting a booster your priority, it is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself against coronavirus and this new variant.”

The way in which residents in Wales will receive their third jab differs from English residents, who are able to book booster appointments online.  

Walk-in sites for booster vaccinations have been available in England since Monday

Before Ms Morgan’s statements today about the provision of walk-in lanes, advice from Welsh health boards was to wait to be contacted with details of your appointment.

Speaking yesterday, Pentwyn councillor Emma Sandrey said: “It’s a confusing message that in England you can book to get your booster and in Wales you can’t. I understand that there are probably reasons for this, but those reasons haven’t been made clear.”

Coun Sandrey expressed frustration over the fact that many Cardiff residents under the age of 40 are still waiting to be invited for their booster vaccine.  

“I’m not just speaking as a councillor; I’m speaking as an anxious 34-year-old who desperately wants the booster because I’ve got asthma and I’m nervous about seeing people over Christmas.”

Laura Pearson, 37, who lives in Whitchurch, said that the process to get her booster was still unclear.

“So far friends and I have been relying on bits of information gleaned from others to put together what we think is the approach,” she said.

“If the English approach actually worked then I would be annoyed that we in Wales had been left out, but the booking website for England has already fallen over. That doesn’t fill me with confidence that my friends over the border will get their jabs before me.

“One friend likened the experience of trying to get online to book her jab as more difficult than getting a Glasto ticket.”

Yesterday, people in England faced difficulties trying to book their boosters as the NHS website repeatedly crashed and displayed an error message which said they were experiencing “technical difficulties.”

Today, Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “We do things very differently here in Wales.

“We work things out before we announce, that’s how we avoid the chaotic scenes you’ve seen in England yesterday.”

In the lead up to these announcements, health boards across Wales have been searching for medically trained volunteers to assist with the vaccination rollout.

Angela Hughes, assistant director of patient experience at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “Please help us to support the vaccination programme if you are able. Your time, experience and support is really appreciated.”

Mass vaccination centre sites available in Cardiff and Vale include Splott, Barry and Cardiff Bay. It is expected the walk-in lanes will be implemented soon.