The COVID-19 vaccination programme in Wales has been delivered at significant pace with local, national and UK partners working together to vaccinate a significant proportion of the Welsh population.Whilst immediate vaccine milestones have been achieved, a longer-term plan is needed that keeps pace with evolving knowledge of the virus and vaccines and considers how to maintain a resilient vaccine workforce and good levels of uptake within the community. Vaccination rates in Wales, at the time of reporting, were the highest of the four UK nations, and some of the highest in the world. The Welsh Government’s vaccination strategy has provided a strong motivation to drive the programme, and all milestones have been met to date.Those involved in the rollout have worked well to set up a range of vaccination models which make best use of the vaccines available, while also providing opportunities to deliver vaccines close to the communities they serve. Overall vaccine uptake is high, but there are concerns about the lower uptake for some ethnic groups and in deprived communities, as well as non-attendance at booked appointments in general.Vaccine supply is the most significant factor affecting the rollout, and this is dependent on international supply. With limited stock held in Wales, interruptions to expected supply could seriously impact the pace of the rollout. So far, workforce staff have been working ‘above and beyond’ to meet the demand for vaccinations. Welsh Government and NHS Wales now need to develop a long-term plan for vaccine rollout. Including sustainable workforce models to respond to supply and demand as other services are restarted. There is much to be learnt from the positive way in which the vaccine programme has been rolled out to date. This learning should be looked to apply to wider immunisation strategies and the delivery of other programmes in NHS Wales.As at the end of May 2021:
- 3.3 million vaccinations were given in Wales.
- 84.4% of the 2.52 million eligible adults, have received a first dose.
- 66.1% of the 1.68 million in the ‘at risk’ priority group, have received a second dose.
- Only 0.4% of all vaccines have been considered unsuitable for use.
- The cost for 2020-21 has been £29.4 million, excluding redeployed staff and the cost of the vaccines.
Wales has made great strides with its COVID-19 vaccination programme. Key milestones for priority groups have been met and the programme is continuing at pace with a significant proportion of the Welsh population now vaccinated. This is a phenomenal achievement and testament to the hard work and commitment of all the individuals and organisations that have been involved in the vaccine roll out to date. However, the job is far from over. A longer-term plan is needed that moves beyond the existing milestones and considers key issues such as resilience of the vaccine workforce, evolving knowledge of vaccine safety, the need for booster doses, and maintaining good uptake rates - especially in those groups that have shown some hesitancy in coming forward for their vaccinations. Adrian Crompton, Auditor Generalhttps://www.wao.gov.uk/publication/rollout-covid-19-vaccination-programme-wales