Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly newsletter, 12th of May 2021, which brings you up to date with where we are with the roll out of the Covid vaccines across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
*Please note this newsletter will now be released fortnightly instead of weekly.*
Let’s start this week’s update off with a big thank you and round of applause for our Covid vaccination booking team!
We organised an additional Pfizer vaccination clinic for the Bay Field Hospital on Sunday, May 9th, in response to last Friday’s UK recommendation that those under 40 (with no clinical risk factors) should be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
At short notice they managed to fill all 1,800 slots from our reserve list, mainly with people under 30.
This was our first reserve-only clinic and its success means there will be two more this week, on Friday and Sunday with around 3,500 appointments available. If you are invited via text, then please be patient. We text out in batches so sometimes leaving it for 20 minutes before you pick up the phone may mean that you will get through more quickly. We still have around 2,000 slots available and we will be filling these over the next few days so don’t worry if you can’t get through first time around, please keep trying and opt for one of our quieter times if you can.
Unfortunately, some people on the reserve list who got a text from us found it hard to get through to book their appointment.
We’re really sorry about this. A technical glitch combined with a high volume of calls caused problems.
We have now fixed the technical issue and have increased the number of phone lines available.
Many of those who couldn’t get through last weekend now have appointments.
Worth noting that the busiest times for our booking lines are 9am to 10am and 12.30 to 1pm so, if you can, avoid ringing at these times and waits will be shorter.
We’ve got much more to tell you about this week, so let’s get cracking.
Please note: Figures correct as of 5pm on Wednesday, May 12th. These figures are for the Swansea Bay University Health Board area, not the whole of Wales.
1st dose: 241,190
2nd dose: 99,635
Doses given in GP practices (first and second doses): 95,412
Running total (1st and 2nd doses): 340,825
Who are we vaccinating now? First doses: We have started the routine scheduling of first doses for those aged 29 to 25. So, look out for a letter if you’re in this age group.
If you’re 30 + and haven’t had an invite, we advise you to join our reserve list.
Second doses :
May is very busy for second doses at both GP surgeries and in our Mass Vaccination Centres. Those who had their first dose in February should get their second this month.
Regardless of the brand of Covid vaccine given, the gap between first and second doses is now around 11 to 12 weeks. You will automatically be recalled for your second dose.
This gap is in line with the latest advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
It means more people can benefit from the first dose during this roll out stage and longer term protection will then be provided by the second dose.
But don’t be concerned if the gap is longer than the 12 weeks. The second dose can still be given and the course does not need to be restarted.
ID for Covid vaccine appointments You need to bring identification with you when attending your vaccination appointment. Preferably this will be a photo ID. Your driving licence or current passport is perfect. If you don’t have these you will need to bring proof of address, so a bank statement or a utility bill will do.
Vaccination and travel – You’ve probably seen on the news that from Monday, May 17th, people living in England will be able to travel abroad and use the NHS app to provide proof they’ve had the Covid vaccination. Please remember this is England only advice.
The Welsh Government will make its own announcement on international travel and vaccine certification.
We understand that many people will be keen to take advantage of any opportunity to travel abroad this summer, but neither the health board or your GP are able to provide the proof of vaccination that may be required. Please don’t ask. We are expecting an announcement from Welsh Government shortly on how you can access a certificate to prove that you have been vaccinated.
Please also be aware that we WON’T be able to give you your second dose early, just because you have a holiday booked. Also, our reserve list is for first doses only.
We’ll update you via our social media channels, website and this newsletter once the Welsh guidance has been released.
In the meantime, if you’ve been called for your first dose please make every effort to attend because if you’re vaccinated this month your second dose will be due in August and there may still be time for that holiday abroad.
Updated Oxford-AstraZeneca guidance As mentioned in the introduction, last Friday (May 7th) the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that those under 40 (with no clinical risk factors) should be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine where one is available and it doesn’t delay vaccination.
This precautionary measure updates previous advice that those under 30 should be offered an alternative. It’s been changed because the risk of younger people becoming seriously ill with Covid is decreasing as infection rates fall and due to the good supply of alternative vaccines.
As a result, this health board is now offering those under 40 the Pfizer vaccine.
If you are over 40, it is likely that you will be offered the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine – either in a Mass Vaccination Centre, on the Immbulance or in a community pharmacy setting. This is because we have to manage our supplies carefully so we can’t offer a choice of vaccine. We are also able to offer a limited number of people their 2nd doses in a community pharmacy – just let the booking team know if you would prefer this.
Blood clots and unusual bleeding following the first dose of the Oxford-AZ vaccine remain extremely rare (around four cases for every one million doses given) although seen slightly more often in young people and occurring between four days and four weeks after vaccination.
Everybody who has already had a first dose of the Oxford-AZ vaccine should be reassured that they should receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age, in line with JVCI advice. Medical exemptions may apply to a very small minority.
Covid vaccination and pregnancy Vaccination is now recommended for all pregnant women at any time in your pregnancy. While pregnant women were not included in vaccine trials, which is common practice, real-world data from the USA shows that around 90,000 pregnant women have now been vaccinated, mainly with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, without any safety concerns being raised. This is why the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation changed their guidance. We also know that pregnant women can become more seriously ill with Covid, particularly in the late stages of pregnancy. And in pregnant women with symptomatic Covid 19 the risk of pre-term birth is increased by two to three times.
See our frequently asked questions below for more details:
• How will I be called for my appointment?
You will be called as normal in your age group. This means you will receive an appointment letter in the post.
• Do I just turn up to my appointment as normal?
If you are pregnant and receive an appointment letter for a Covid vaccination you need to contact the booking centre telephone number on the letter to tell us you are pregnant.
• Which vaccine will I have?
The JCVI recommends either Pfizer or Moderna for pregnant women. We haven’t got Moderna in this health board, so you will be offered Pfizer.
• I’m not sure. Is more information available? Can I talk to someone?
Yes. Please contact your midwife or consultant to find out if vaccination is right for you.
If you are under the care of a consultant, contact the number or email address on your last letter from the hospital.
If you are under the care of community midwives, here is a list of the teams’ contact details:
• North SBU.NorthMidwives@wales.nhs.uk 07766466892
• South SBU.email@example.com 07766466891
• East SBU.EastMidwives@wales.nhs.uk 07971719632
• West SBU.WestMidwives@wales.nhs.uk 07766466893
• Afan SBU.firstname.lastname@example.org 07581569882
• Nedd SBU.NorthMidwives@wales.nhs.uk 07815779113
And finally…Thanks to decreasing infection rates we’re pleased to be able to begin gradually welcoming visitors again, but STRICTLY BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.
This includes essential partner support in maternity services.
That’s all for this week. Many thanks for reading.
We’ll catch up again next week.