People who have received a coronavirus vaccine in Wales will be given a card detailing the date and type of the vaccination.
The announcement came from health minister Vaughan Gething after Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine was approved by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
In a written statement Mr Gething said: “Those receiving a COVID-19 vaccination will be given a credit card-sized NHS Wales immunisation card which will have the vaccine name, date of immunisation and batch number of each of the doses given handwritten on them.
“These will act as a reminder for a second dose and for the type of vaccine, and it will also give information about how to report side effects.”
Yesterday WalesOnline revealed that Welsh Government had conducted a dry run of administering the vaccines in Wales which had been successful. Welsh Government sources had said Wales was ready to go as soon as the vaccine was approved and we were “within spitting distance of potentially getting back to some sort of real normality”.
How will the vaccine be delivered in Wales?
Due to the specific requirements of the vaccine it is not just a case of sending it all over Wales. The vaccine is going to be stored in two sites in Wales where health boards will have to pick it up from.
“We are aware of the challenges of storing, distributing and handling the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine,” said Mr Gething. “In particular its need for storage at very low temperatures of below minus -75ºC +/- 15ºC.
“Two specialist sites have been identified as appropriate delivery sites for the vaccine and local Health Boards will collect the vaccines directly from the two sites.”
The first group to get the vaccine will be older adults resident in a care home and care home workers though it not just a matter of distributing directly to care settings. “In practical terms at this stage that we cannot deliver this vaccine to care homes.” said Mr Gething.
The Welsh Government will be using the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to decide who will be the first people to be vaccinated.
The order advised is:
- Older adults resident in a care home and care home workers
- All those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers
- All those 75 years of age and over
- All those 70 years of age and over
- All those 65 years of age and over
- High-risk adults under 65 years of age
- Moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age
- All those 60 years of age and over
- All those 55 years of age and over
- All those 50 years of age and over
- Rest of the population
How many doses do you need to take?
The UK Government has also pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and having submitted its Phase three data, a decision from the MHRA is awaited for this vaccine. If approved as safe and effective for use it could start been rolled out in Wales later in December.
Both the Oxford/AstraZeneca and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine consist of a two dose schedule with four weeks between doses. Protection is achieved by seven days following second dose, although some protection will begin from seven to 14 days following first dose.
At the moment 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have been secured by the UK Government on behalf of the UK.
Is the Welsh Government ready for this?
The certainly say so.
The tests over the last few weeks seem to have worked well.
Mr Gething said: “All NHS organisations in Wales have undertaken Wales-wide simulation exercises to test our distribution and storage arrangements and to ensure we can get effective vaccine safely to every part of Wales.
“On November 26, the end to end logistics for the Pfizer vaccine from ultra-low temperature central storage to receipt by the end user was tested across NHS Wales as part of a ‘dummy simulation exercise’. This exercise was a follow up arrangement to an initial test on the November 12, expanding the logistics to include multiple delivery sites and aligning all the necessary consumables required to undertake a vaccination clinic.
“All key stakeholders from the seven Health Boards took part along with partners and key pharmacy leads. Cold chain maintenance was maintained throughout the distribution exercise with no temperature excursions or delays. All deliveries were received at the correct locations and receipt of deliveries recorded electronically on the Welsh Immunisation System.”
How are people told they are getting the vaccine?
People will be sent appointments with details of the location where they will receive the vaccination, dependent on where they are on the schedule and risk. There will be no need to apply for or ask GPs or pharmacists for the vaccination, as invitation will be done automatically.
Mr Gething added: “The Welsh Immunisation System has been developed in Wales and can create appointments and automatically schedule second doses, send appointment letters and record vaccinations for every Covid-19 vaccine given.”
Is it safe and do I have to take it?
Vaccines in the UK are subject to an incredibly rigorous screening and testing process.
Some people have raised questions as to why this vaccine has been produced so quickly when other take 10 years. The main answer to that is that huge amount of resources and money have been thrown at its development. The reason vaccines often take a long time is because researchers have to spend lots of their time looking for wxtra funding and resources – that has not been an issue with the Covid one.
“The vaccine will not be mandatory and people will be able to choose whether they take up the vaccine or not,” said the health minister.
“Information will be provided to people before vaccination to reassure them about patient safety and robust consent processes will be in place. As we get closer to deployment we will continue to provide clear information to the public and urge people to seek NHS advice so they have the right information to make an informed choice.”