Main picture: Ieuan Thomas, 80, with his vaccination card
*Please note – 44,480 correct as of 7pm, January 28th.*
Half of those most at risk of dying from Covid in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have received their first dose of the vaccine.
This is an immense achievement which has seen 44,480 people vaccinated so far, the vast majority of them either by their GP surgery or in one of our three Mass Vaccination Centres.
It means we are on course to hit the milestone of reaching everyone in priority groups one to four - over 70s, care home residents, frontline health and social care workers and those deemed clinically extremely vulnerable/shielding - by mid February.
Dr Keith Reid, Director of Public Health for Swansea Bay University Health Board, said: “To go from a standing start, delivering vaccines we had never dealt with before to an enormous number of vulnerable people and critical care workers has been a truly mammoth task.
“And, while we are always dependant on the vaccine supply coming through to us, we have worked tirelessly with colleagues in the military, GP surgeries and local councils to make the very best use of the resources we have.
“The planning behind the roll out took months, but we have not rested on our laurels. Since we began vaccinating we are always looking at our processes, trying to make them even more efficient to increase the number of people being vaccinated every week.”
He added: “There is still work to do and if you are in groups one to four and still haven’t heard, we will get to you very soon. Please be patient.”
The health board is vaccinating different groups of patients at the same time but in different places in order to reach as many people as quickly and safely as possible.
The next group being called are the clinically extremely vulnerable, those who were shielding and are on the shielding patient list. They are part of priority group four.
Most adults in this group aged up to 74 will be called for vaccination by their GP practice, once they have completed the over 80s.
Those who are shielding and aged 75-79 may already have been called to a Mass Vaccination Centre, but can cancel that appointment by telephoning the number on their appointment letter and waiting for the GP surgery to contact them if they prefer.
A small number of people in this group who attend the Dyfed Road, Neath, and Swansea University practices will have their vaccinations by special arrangement. They will be contacted soon.
“Hope and optimism abounds in our primary care vaccination clinics,” said GP Dr Mark Goodwin, of Afan Valley Group Practice in Glyncorrwg.
“There is definitely a positive buzz, patients and staff smiling. So many primary care nurses, support workers, managers and GPs all eager to devote considerable time, seven days a week to vaccinate in practice, rented halls and in the homes of housebound patients, complementing Mass Vaccination Centres.”
Dr Iestyn Davies, lead for the Cwmtawe Cluster of GP practices, said: “Given the challenges faced in obtaining the vaccinations it is reassuring that we have hit such a target in such a short space of time.
“It goes to show that there is a willingness amongst staff to vaccinate efficiently, but also in our communities that patients realise the benefits of having the vaccination in order to protect themselves and work towards returning to normality.”
Once all of those in groups one to four have been vaccinated, people aged 50 to 69 and those between 16 and 64 with underlying health conditions will be called for vaccination.
Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: “It is really good news for our communities that so much has been achieved in such a relatively short period. Swansea Council alongside our colleagues in the health board have pulled out all the stops to create Mass Vaccination Centres, which are at the heart of getting vaccinations done as quickly as possible.
“Though there is still a long way to go, the more people who are vaccinated more quickly, the sooner we will be able to bring a degree of normality back to our everyday lives.
“In the meantime we must remember to continue to follow the rules that help keep our families safe and help protect the NHS.”
Councillor Rob Jones, leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “This is a fantastic milestone to have reached and is a reflection of the hard work by Neath Port Talbot Council and colleagues in the health board in creating Mass Vaccination Centres, which are now really moving on the delivery of these life saving injections at quite a pace.
“We must however not drop our guard and despite the vaccine roll-out, also taking place in GP surgeries, we must continue with the rules on social distancing, hand washing and the wearing of face coverings.
“People are losing loved ones and our hospitals are still under severe pressure. If we relax now, it could have disastrous consequences for our communities and the NHS.”