MORE than three quarters of adults in North Wales have now received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) remain on course to offer vaccination to the remaining adult population before the end of July.

Gill Harris, executive director of Nursing and Midwifery, said on May 11: "This is the largest vaccination programme ever undertaken in the NHS and we simply could not have protected so many people so quickly without the expertise and dedication of our primary care colleagues in GP surgeries, Local Vaccination Centres and community pharmacies.

"I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all of our primary care partners for the swift and very positive way they responded to last week’s national change in guidance on the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine."

Change to JCVI and MHRA guidance

Last week the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) changed their guidance to state that where possible, an alternative to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine should be offered to 30-39 year-olds as a precautionary measure, because of the extremely small risk of blood clots occurring in this age group.

As a result, those aged 18-39 will now receive the Pfizer vaccine, and those aged over 40 will receive the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

Ms Harris said: "This short notice change unavoidably led to a number of appointments being cancelled last week, which have since been rearranged. We do not expect this change in guidance to delay the overall delivery of the vaccination programme in North Wales.

"Everyone who has already had a first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine should be reassured that it is safe to receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age, in line with JCVI advice. Medical exemptions may apply to a very small minority.

"The announcement can be found on the Welsh Government website.

"More information can also be found on the Public Health Wales website."

Vaccination progress as at May 11 2021:

  • 640,259 total vaccinations have been administered in North Wales
  • First dose vaccines – 433,350
  • Second dose vaccines – 206,909

Percentage of people in Priority Groups who have received a first dose:

  • People aged 65 to 69: 94 per cent
  • People aged 16 to 64 in an at risk group: 86 per cent
  • People aged 60 to 64: 89 per cent
  • People aged 55-59: 86 per cent
  • People aged 50-54: 85 per cent
  • People aged 40-49: 55 per cent
  • People aged 30-39: 22 per cent
  • People aged 18-29: 44 per cent

Missed appointments

Ms Harris said: "We are continuing to see a high number of people failing to attend their appointments.

"Vaccines are never thrown away, because we are able to call people in at short notice, but each missed appointment wastes vital NHS resources and creates significant logistical challenges for our staff.

"While a small number of these missed appointments are a result of duplicate appointments, incorrect contact details or appointment letters arriving late, we know that in the vast majority of cases, it is because people have failed to notify us that they cannot attend, or do not wish to be vaccinated."

Covid-19 Vaccination Contact Centre

"We’re working hard to increase the number of call handlers in our Covid-19 Vaccination Contact Centre and recognise that some people are waiting much longer than we would like to get through," Ms Harris said.

"Please help us to help you by only calling our Covid-19 Vaccination Contact Centre for the following reasons: You have been invited to contact us to cancel or amend an appointment; You are aged 40+ or in an at risk group, haven’t received a first dose appointment, and you are unable to access the internet to complete our online form (you will have your contact details taken and will receive a call back to book an appointment).

"You had your first dose anywhere other than a GP surgery, and you have been waiting more than eleven weeks for your second dose appointment."

The Covid-19 Vaccination Contact Centre number is 03000 840004 and the lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm and Saturday to Sunday, 9am to 1pm.

Short notice appointments

In order to avoid wasting any vaccines because people have not turned up for appointments, from time to time BCUHB may offer short notice appointments to people in certain age groups on a first come first served basis.

In addition, there may be occasions where the health board invite people in certain age groups to book an appointment directly with them.

Where these appointments become available, they will be publicised on BCUHB's social media accounts and shared with the local media, where possible.

Can people choose which vaccine they receive?

Ms Harris said: "It is not possible for individuals to choose which brand of first or second dose vaccine they receive. In line with the latest guidance from the JCVI and MHRA, those aged 18-39 will receive the Pfizer vaccine, and those aged over 40 will receive the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

"Second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine must be the same brand as the first dose, unless there is a clear clinical need for an alternative.

"There is no current clinical evidence of blood clotting occurring following second doses of any Covid-19 vaccine. Therefore, only those with specific clinical risk factors will be offered an alternative second dose vaccine.

"Please still attend your appointment if have any concerns about the vaccine, so we can take the time to discuss these with you before you make a decision on whether or not to go ahead with vaccination."

For further information on the North Wales COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, see BCUHB's vaccination frequently asked questions (FAQs).