Frontline NHS staff working in North Wales have become the first people in Wales to receive their Covid-19 booster vaccines, as the programme started in Wales today [Thursday 16 September].
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board began to offer its staff the booster vaccine just days after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued its final advice about the autumn booster programme.Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board will begin its booster vaccination programme on Saturday, starting with care home residents.Swansea Bay, Hywel Da, Aneurin Bevan, Cardiff and Vale and Powys health boards have all confirmed they will begin offering the booster vaccine to care home residents and healthcare staff from Monday [20th September].Health Minister Eluned Morgan confirmed Wales has accepted the JCVI’s advice to offer all over 50s, frontline health and social care workers and people with underlying health conditions – people in priority groups one to nine – a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.  Booster vaccination for other adults will be considered by the JCVI at a later date.Letters inviting 12 to 15-year-olds to have a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine will begin to be issued next week and the first vaccines are expected to be administered from 4 October.All vaccines will be delivered either in care homes, in mass vaccination centres, hospitals or GP surgeries. People will be advised where their vaccination will take place when invited. Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, said:“Wales’ vaccination programme has been world leading and we have been working with the NHS to deliver the autumn booster safely and efficiently. “I would urge all those who are eligible for a booster take up the offer when they are called for an appointment, as there is the possibility of reduced immunity from their earlier doses of the vaccine as time passes.“If you haven’t had the first dose of the vaccine yet, it’s not too late. I encourage anyone who has not yet taken up their offer to do so.”Dr Gill Richardson, deputy chief medical officer for vaccines, said:“Today, the first doses of the booster vaccine have been provided to frontline healthcare staff who look after some of our most vulnerable people as we continue to protect individuals from the virus, serious illness and the risk of hospitalisation.“We have already seen the benefits that come from having as many people as possible vaccinated and have been preparing for this throughout the summer.  Vaccines remain our strongest defence from the virus and to maintain the levels of immunity that people have achieved.”People across Wales are being urged to wait until they are invited to have their booster and not to contact NHS or health services to request a Covid-19 booster vaccine.