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COVID-19 Vaccination Newsletter 22 January 2021 (html version)

Please note that this newsletter reflects the current position as at 22 January 2021. Planning and delivery of COVID-19 vaccination is subject to considerable change due to many different factors outside of our control. Please check our website for the latest information.

In this edition:

Dear Colleagues

COVID-19 vaccination has now reached a new milestone, with 12,000 vaccinations delivered through our programme in the county. When I was writing last week’s newsletter our total stood at just over 7,000 which is excellent progress in just one week.

With the county being battered by Storm Christoph, this total has only been made possible because of the amazing response of the people of Powys. With some people unable to attend their appointment due to flooding or icy conditions, we were quickly able to fill our slots thanks to local residents aged 70+ coming forward to visit our vaccination centres at short notice.

My personal thanks go to every one of you. Your actions benefit the whole county – appointment slots were filled, vaccine doses were not being wasted, and we continued to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

And if you were unable to attend because of the travel disruption caused by the storms, our booking team is working hard to rearrange this. I know how disappointing it will be for those people affected by the weather, and thank you for your patience whilst we arrange a new appointment for you.

This week’s big jump in vaccinations is also due to the relocation of our Mass Vaccination Centre in Newtown to Maldwyn Leisure Centre. The new facility is a massive boost to our vaccination capacity in the county. Together these developments mean we remain on target to achieve our goal to vaccinate people in Priority Groups 1 to 4 by mid-February.

The members of Priority Groups 1 to 4 who should expect their vaccination appointment by mid-February include:

  • Residents of care homes for older adults - nearly all residents have now received their vaccination – there are some residents who should not have the vaccine yet for clinical reasons.
  • People aged 80 and over – all registered patients aged 80 and over should now have received their invitation – there are more details later in this newsletter if you know someone who has not received their letter.
  • Frontline health and care workers – information has been sent to employers across the county.
  • People aged 75 and over – invitations have begun for the GP practice clinics which start from 25 January.
  • People aged 70 and over – invitations are beginning to some people aged 70 and over and will continue in the days ahead.
  • People who are “clinically extremely vulnerable” – invitations will begin very soon – and remember that this is a smaller group than the people with underlying health conditions who receive the seasonal flu immunisation.

Alongside our bigger vaccination centre in Newtown, I am delighted too that we have a further step change in our vaccination programme next week with vaccine clinics opening in all 16 GP practices. Together our GP practices aim to deliver nearly 4000 vaccine doses by the end of January – which is now just a few days away. I am hopeful that by my next newsletter in a week’s time we will be heading towards 20,000 people vaccinated in the county.

Whilst the programme continues to make great strides forward, I also want to reflect on how we are responding to your feedback:

  • On travel and transport, the opening of GP practice clinics next week will bring more access closer to home for more people. We continue to make progress providing vaccination to people who are clinically housebound. And I am also grateful for the support of PAVO, local community transport organisations, volunteers, and the mutual aid from people in local communities which together is a great demonstration of how “Team Powys” responds to the challenge of setting up the biggest vaccination programme the country has seen. I do still encourage everyone who can take up an appointment at a mass vaccination centre to do so – these are the only locations where we can deliver our guaranteed supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
  • We have seen some important improvements in our booking & appointment systems including a set of online forms that have provided a vital alternative to calling our booking centre. You can read more about these forms later in this newsletter.
  • And clearly our progress is still dependent on the continued supplies of the vaccine, which is outside our local control. We continue to work closely with Welsh Government and with health boards across Wales to make sure we are planning for the weeks and months ahead.

My key messages this week are therefore:

  • If you are aged 80 and over and have not received your invitation yet then please let us know.
  • If you are not able to attend your appointment due to travel disruption then please let us know – you can use this form is you have been invited to our mass vaccination centres in Bronllys, Builth Wells or Newtown – or contact your GP practice if your invitation is to their clinic
  • From this week, more people aged 70-79 will begin to receive their invitations – and plans are also under way to invite the “clinically extremely vulnerable” for appointments before mid-February.
  • Please wait to be contacted, and thank you for your patience.
  • Vaccinations are by appointment only, and please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible to help us give everyone the best possible experience at the vaccination centres.
  • You will receive your invitation when you are due for your appointment, based on the priority order across the UK.
  • Please don’t contact your GP, pharmacy, health board, hospital or local authority about an appointment – until you receive your invitation.

Thank you for everything you are doing to Keep Powys Safe – and please do feel free to share this information in your organisations, networks and communities.

Carol Shillabeer, Chief Executive, Powys Teaching Health Board

Newtown Mass Vaccination Centre moves to new home

Our Mass Vaccination Centre in Powys has opened in its new location at the Maldwyn Leisure Centre in Newtown. Working from the leisure centre will enable even more people to be vaccinated. Powys Teaching Health Board is grateful for the support given by Freedom Leisure in helping get everything ready for Wednesday’s opening.

The facility opened at 8am on Wednesday 20 January, and was able to vaccinate more than 500 people on its first day and more than 2,000 people by the weekend.

Hefina Anwyl from Staylittle was one of the hundreds of people over the age of 80 vaccinated received their first jab. she said “there wasn’t a thing to it, didn’t feel a thing! It was well organised, staff were very friendly, just a shame we can’t have a cup of tea too!”

Dawn Robinson is a care worker and was also vaccinated on the opening day. She said, “the arrival was well organised and went very smooth. I have been reading a lot about vaccines and couldn’t help feel a little apprehensive, but the jab went absolutely fine, there was nothing to worry about.”

Our mass vaccination centres are located in Bronllys, Builth Wells and Newtown. You can find out more about our mass vaccination centre model on our website.

Over 80s letters have now been issued

By now, everyone aged 80 and over who is registered with a GP in Powys should have received their invitation for a vaccination appointment – and several thousand have already received their vaccination.

If you know someone aged 80 or over, who is registered with a GP in Powys, and who has not yet received their invitation please let us know. There is a form on our website, which people can complete themselves or can be completed on their behalf.

Fill in this form for anyone over 80 who has not received their invitation

Your invitation to the COVID-19 vaccination programme is normally based on where you are registered with a GP. There are a number of exceptions, for example where vaccination is arranged through an employer.

If someone lives in Powys but is registered with a GP in a neighbouring county, they will be invited for vaccination through the vaccination programme in the neighbouring county.

Find out about vaccination programmes in neighbouring counties

The first phase of invitations has been to our mass vaccination centres. But Powys is a large rural county and a mass vaccination centre is not an option for everyone. If anyone needs to rearrange their pre-booked appointment, or discuss an appointment closer to home, they can use the details in their booking letter or our online form:

Rearrange an appointment at a mass vaccination centre

You can also use this form if you are unable to attend a mass vaccination centre appointment due to travel disruption. If your appointment is through your GP practice vaccination clinic, please contact your GP practice if you need to cancel your appointment.

Appointments at our mass vaccination centres are set up in batches of around 1000. This is because we receive the vaccine in trays of 1000. In order to fill appointments at our mass vaccination centres we have already begun to issue some invitations to people aged 70-74. If you are aged 75-79 your invitation will come from your GP practice (see below).

Invitations to people aged 75 and 79 are under way

Our vaccination programme in Powys needed to begin with mass vaccination centres. These appointment-only services are in Bronllys, Builth Wells and Newtown.

Our article in last week’s newsletter explained the challenge of deploying the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in a rural county, and why our three mass vaccination centres are a core part of our programme.

This meant that our first wave of invitations – to people aged 80 and over – was to our mass vaccination centres. In the previous article you can find out how to request an alternative appointment or someone aged 80 and over if a mass vaccination centre is not the right option for them.

With GP practice clinics opening from next week, invitation to people aged 75 to 79 are now also well under way.

Each GP practice will have their own arrangements in place for inviting people for vaccination. They will also each have local arrangements for providing the vaccine. All GP practices are working hard to provide COVID-19 vaccination with the minimum disruption to their other services.

If you are aged 75-79 please do check on your GP practice website for details of their COVID-19 vaccination programme – and please wait for your invitation to book.

Vaccination Heroes: Administration Team

Our latest Vaccination Heroes are our Admin Team. These are the dedicated people who are managing the huge effort behind the scenes to ensure that everything goes smoothly when you come to have your vaccination.

If you have called to make an appointment, the admin team have been taking your calls. But they are doing a lot more than that. With tens of thousands of people in Powys alone to be vaccinated, they are ensuring that the databases are up to date and that the systems are all working for the clinical staff to deliver vaccinations quickly and efficiently, helping to maximise the number of people we can vaccinate in each session.

We have admin staff working on COVID based all across Powys, but I was able to meet three of them in Bronllys last week. Megan, Bethan and Alex joined the health board during the COVID pandemic as we rapidly expanded our teams to help us to deliver vaccinations.

Megan described the work they are doing “We are currently processing data from care homes across Powys to record who has been vaccinated and ensure that we know who still needs to be vaccinated”

Bethan told me about working on the phones “It’s been so busy, especially at the start. Everyone is so keen to be vaccinated. It’s been lovely speaking to people and knowing that you’re helping."

Alex then explained “For a lot of people this is the first time they have spoken to anyone for a long time. They are so pleased to have the chance to book their vaccine as it feels like the first steps towards being able to get life back to normal. Some people are a little nervous about the vaccine so it has been really nice to be able to help reassure them.”

There are many more people in the admin team spread right across Powys. They all play their part in getting as many people vaccinated as possible, as quickly as possible.

And, of course, the Admin team are just one part of the overall vaccination team that has come together so quickly.

Thank you to you all.

COVID-19 Vaccination Online Q&A Event with Carol Shillabeer

You are invited to the next online Q&A Event with our Chief Executive, Carol Shillabeer. This will be on Wednesday 3 February from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. It will provide an opportunity to update you on the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Powys, and answer your questions

Join the Online Q&A with Carol Shillabeer via this link

How do I join?

You can join the session from most web browsers by clicking on this link.

When do I join?

You are welcome to join just before 5.30pm by clicking on the link above. The meeting will start shortly after 5.30pm to allow people time to join.

How do I participate?

This event will be provided through Microsoft Teams Live Event. It includes a Q&A function which allows you to ask questions. We regret that we may not have time to answer all the questions raised, but hope that the briefing will provide an opportunity to cover the main themes.

I cannot attend – will I still be able to watch?

If you cannot attend on the day, you can watch the event at any time using the web link.

I am having trouble joining

The briefing will be recorded so that it is available for people who have trouble joining, or who are not available to join us at 5.30pm. More information about being an attendee of a Microsoft Teams Live Event is available from the Microsoft website.

COVID-19 Vaccination – the position across Wales

Information about the number of vaccinations for each health boards is currently published on a weekly basis by Public Health Wales. It is published each Thursday, with information for the previous week. This means that it is running slightly behind the information we share with you in our bulletin, where we provide the most up-to-date position.

It is the information from Public Health Wales that is used by many of the country’s media outlets, including the BBC. The BBC publishes a map that shows the percentage of residents who have already received the vaccination – with Powys currently having the highest figure in Wales.

As at 17 January, 8,509 people had been vaccinated through the Powys vaccination programme, and 7,721 Powys residents had received their vaccination. The main reason for the difference is that here in Powys many of our frontline health and care workers live outside the county. So, they are included the total number that we have vaccinated (8,509). But, they are not resident in the county, to the resident figure is slightly smaller (7,721).

At the time of publication of this newsletter, the number of people vaccinated through the Powys vaccination programme has already increased to over 12,000.

The latest information about the number of COVID-19 vaccination doses delivered in Wales is available from the Public Health Wales dashboard – please remember that PTHB has the smallest population of all health boards, and is around a third of the size of the next smallest health boards (Cwm Taf Morgannwg, Hywel Dda):

Public Health Wales dashboard

In case you missed our last edition

Previous editions of our newsletter are available from our website. Last week’s edition included:

  • COVID-19 Vaccination Update from Carol Shillabeer
  • Susie’s experience of the mass vaccination
  • Our mass vaccination centre model
  • Hands Face Space
  • National Strategy for COVID-19 Vaccination published
  • Watch our Online Q&A with Carol Shillabeer
  • Vaccination Heroes: Military Support
  • Update on the vaccination of care home residents
  • Vaccination Heroes: Working in partnership with RWAS
  • Working Together Across County Boundaries
  • Useful Links

Further Information about COVID-19 vaccination:

More information about our COVID-19 vaccination programme here in Powys is available from the Powys Teaching Health Board website:

More information about the national COVID-19 vaccination programme in Wales is available from the Public Health Wales website:

The latest information about the number of COVID-19 vaccination doses delivered in Wales is available from the Public Health Wales dashboard – please remember that PTHB has the smallest population of all health boards, and is around a third of the size of the next smallest health boards (Cwm Taf Morgannwg, Hywel Dda):

More information about the Welsh Government’s strategy for COVID-19 vaccination: