All over 50s and those considered clinically vulnerable in Wales will have been offered a Covid-19 vaccine by the spring ‘subject to supply’, the health minister for Wales has said.

Vaughan Gething unveiled the Welsh Government’s vaccine strategy yesterday (11 January)

It also outlined plans to offer a vaccine to all health and social care staff, those over 70 and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals by mid-February, ‘subject to supply’ from the UK Government. 

The Welsh Government’s goal is to offer the vaccine to the rest of the adult population by the autumn, however it said ‘further planning’ for this is still needed. 

Community pharmacy involvement 

The document said that ‘all’ primary care contractors - including community pharmacy - will play a ‘pivotal’ role in vaccine deployment.

‘GP practices and pharmacies, in particular, are experts at running immunisation programmes and have the existing infrastructure to do so,’ it said.

It added that the rollout of the vaccination programme poses ‘different logistic challenges’ for pharmacies – where vaccines has to be supplied in relatively large quantities – but that some larger pharmacies will be able to vaccinate on-site and staff from others can ‘support efforts’ at mass vaccination centres.

‘Again, this will depend on having adequate supplies of the right type of vaccine available to meet demand from all parts of primary care,’ the document said.

A spokesperson for Community Pharmacy Wales said: ‘The Welsh Government yesterday published it’s vaccination programme and has stressed a target of 700,000 people by the middle of February including the most vulnerable and frontline health workers. 

‘Community pharmacists are keen to be involved as fully and extensively as possible. On Friday a community pharmacy will begin with a three-day trial via a single provider in North West Wales.’ 

They added: ‘The Board of Community Pharmacy Wales is currently in session and prioritising discussion of the vaccine programme. A fuller comment will be released later this week.’

Commenting on community pharmacies involvement in the rollout, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘We are working very hard to roll out the vaccine to people in the priority groups in Wales as quickly as possible, including at pharmacies. This includes out of hours.

‘From this week, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is being provided at primary care clinics, this is in addition to those clinics already providing the Pfizer vaccine.’

‘Relatively small volumes’

The Welsh Government’s rollout of the vaccination programme was criticised earlier this week by the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, who said on Twitter that a vaccines minister was needed so the country ‘can hit those targets that have been set in other parts of the UK’. 

The vaccine rollout plan said that ‘every dose’ of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine allocated to Wales is being delivered directly to GPs, pharmacies and hospitals ‘as soon as it is available’. 

The document added: ‘To date we have received relatively small volumes. We know many GPs and others are ready and able to use as much of this vaccine as can be supplied by UK Government.

‘Whilst we are confident supply will increase significantly in the next few weeks, if we had more we could increase coverage rapidly.’

According to Public Health Wales, 91,239 people have received the first dose of the Covid vaccine so far.