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Welsh Covid-19 vaccination programme to be led by health boards and trusts

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By Sofia Lind and Isabel Shaw

18 Nov 2020

Health boards and trusts will be leading the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Wales, with the Welsh chief medical officer set to write ‘shortly’ to set out the full details.

In a statement published yesterday (17 November), Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said this follows months of preparation for a potential vaccination programme.

This saw the chief medical officer write to all health boards and trusts in July to ask them to ‘rapidly progress local plans for delivery of a Covid-19 vaccine’.

It added: ‘The Chief Medical Officer will shortly write again to Health Boards and Trusts to give national direction to the implementation of the vaccination programme.’

The Welsh Government has now reviewed and assessed each plan to ‘ensure each health board and trust has appropriate facilities and equipment to receive, store, prepare and administer vaccines in a safe and controlled manner and plans for rapid deployment through a variety of means (mass immunisation, mobile, occupational and wider primary care)’, the statement said.

Russell Goodway, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Wales, said: ‘The delivery of the developing Covid vaccine is both a major breakthrough and a major challenge to every part of NHS Wales. Building on our success and energy in delivering the flu vaccination programme in Wales, the community pharmacy network is ready to do whatever is required to support the Covid vaccination programme in Wales.

‘We recognise that the programme will be complex and that there are major strategic challenges in both storing and administering the vaccine, but we are placing on the record our readiness to bring the network of community pharmacies across Wales into play as part of the solution to this major public health challenge.

‘This year has shown community pharmacy at our best. In 2020 we kept our services open, coped with huge volumes of dispensing, and more than ever demonstrated the value of community pharmacies in keeping the public safe and well. In 2021, the community pharmacy network will continue to meet the challenges of Covid with the same focus, the same determination, and the same can-do attitude.’

Recipients will be prioritised based on the latest list prepared by the JCVI, the health minister said.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government told the Pharmacist it was currently considering how all healthcare professionals, including community pharmacists, can contribute to Wales’ Covid-19 vaccination programme.

They added: ‘Plans are in place for the logistics for transporting the vaccine; identifying suitable venues for vaccinations to take place; and ensuring that healthcare professionals are available and trained to administer the vaccines.’

Last week, PSNC announced that some community pharmacies in England will be expected to provide a Covid-19 vaccination service under the terms of a new enhanced service.

However, ‘due to the complexity surrounding its unprecedented mass rollout and the storage requirements for the Pfizer vaccine’ contactors should expect pharmacies involvement to be ‘very different’ from any involvement the sector has in current or previous vaccination programmes, the body added.

A version of the story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.

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