Member of the Welsh Parliament for Monmouth, Nick Ramsay, questioned the First Minister in the Senedd last Tuesday on Welsh capacity to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine.
Responding, Mark Drakeford MS, the First Minister said: “I thank the Member for that question. Immediately following regulatory approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, NHS Wales mobilised and administered over 4,000 doses within the first 48 hours of its availability. Detailed workforce modelling is under way, ahead of regulatory approval of subsequent vaccines. NHS Wales is prepared and ready for the task that lies ahead.
Nick Ramsay MS continued: “Thank you, First Minister. I'm pleased to hear that progress is being made, even at this early stage, on the rolling out of the vaccine. I understand that health boards have been asking some former nurses to return to work to help with the roll-out of the vaccine. I wonder if you could confirm that that is the situation, and also, is there any capacity within other organisations across Wales that might be able to help out with that vaccination programme? I think the sooner it can happen the better.”
The First Minister replied: “In relation to vaccination, I say to Nick Ramsay that the approach we have taken in Wales is to contact all four contractor professions—so, not simply GPs, but also pharmacists, optometrists and dentists—to see what contribution they may able to make to a mass vaccination programme, because all of those are professions where people carry out injections and other forms of clinical intervention every single day. I was very heartened yesterday to see the very positive responses we have had from all four of those professions—all of them offering to be part of a mass vaccination programme. I think that will give us an extra resilience here in Wales, as well as being able to draw in a wider range of experienced clinical professionals who can safely administer the vaccination. That will sometimes involve asking people who have recently retired to come back and be part of that effort, and I think that's very sensible as well. But I think, in Wales, we're drawing on the range of primary care professionals we have who are willing to make a contribution. We know that pharmacists carry out flu vaccinations in increasing numbers every year in Wales, and optometrists and dentists have skills, experiences and abilities that they, too, are willing to contribute to that effort, and that is how we are planning the future of our vaccination programme in Wales.”