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COVID-19 Vaccination Newsletter 24 February 2021 (html version)

Please note that this newsletter reflects the current position as at 24 February 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

Our COVID-19 vaccination programme will today reach 50,000 doses. At the time of writing we have provided 47,000 people for their first dose, and 2,450 people for their second dose.

Last week the main focus for our vaccination programme included:

  • Continuing our first dose vaccinations for people aged 65-69. Over two thirds of people in this group have now received their vaccination. The final invitations to people in this group will land on doormats next week.
  • Beginning our invitations for adults with underlying health conditions. Around a quarter of people in this group have received their first dose vaccination.
  • Delivering the second dose vaccination for people who received their first dose during December. This is in line with UK guidance that people should receive their second dose vaccination with 12 weeks of their first dose.

But, alongside this great progress, we must all remember that COVID-19 continues to circulate in the county. This includes the new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 – the ‘Kent’ variant.  This is concerning because it is more easily spread and it is more likely that exposure to the virus will lead to infection.

This is why it remains vital that we all continue to follow the advice to stay at home, follow social distancing rules and wear face coverings in indoor public places.

Vaccination does offer the hope of a brighter future – as well as reducing the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 - but for now it is crucial that we continue to do all we can to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. Remember - Hands, Face, Space.

Update on vaccine supplies in the weeks ahead

As highlighted in last week’s edition, we are in a period where UK vaccine supplies are below the peak we saw earlier this year when we were able to deliver nearly 10,000 first doses in a week.  This is because:

  • The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine now needs to be used for second dose vaccinations. This is vital to ensure that everyone receives their second dose within 12 weeks of their first dose, using the same vaccine as their first dose.
  • The AstraZeneca vaccine is not yet available in large quantities (we expect sufficient supplies to deliver around 2,700 AstraZeneca first dose vaccinations in our Mass Vaccination Centres this week).
  • Whilst the Moderna vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, supplies are not expected until later in the spring.

So, compared with a week ago we have delivered an impressive 7,500 vaccinations in Powys in the last week. But, we are seeing a slower pace of first dose vaccinations until AstraZeneca supplies build up further.

65 to 69 year olds urged to look out for invitation letters

The final invitations to people in Priority Group 5 (aged 65 to 69) will shortly be in the post. This means that from the end of next week we will need anyone in this group who has not yet received their invitation to contact us so that we can offer you a priority appointment. Look out for more details in next week’s newsletter, and via our website and social media channels.

Given the changes in UK vaccine supply, we are also closing our reserve list for the time being. Our reserve list was a crucial part of our vaccination programme when we were delivering first dose vaccinations using Pfizer/BioNTech. This is because we needed to ensure that the large trays of around 1000 doses were used within four days to prevent wastage. Thanks to your support we were very successful in preventing waste.

But now our first dose vaccination programme is focused on AstraZeneca. This vaccine is much easier to store, transport and deliver. This means we do not need a dedicated reserve list to avoid wastage. Instead, we use cancelled slots to invite anyone in Priority Groups 1-5 who has not yet received their first dose, and to continue to invite people in Priority Group 6.

Thank you to everyone who joined our reserve lists in January and February. You helped us to deliver our high levels of vaccination in Powys.

In fact, our rate of vaccination per head is the highest in Wales. This is an amazing achievement given our rural geography. It is important to note that our high rates do reflect that our population is older than the Wales average. This means that we have a higher proportion of people to vaccinate in Priority Groups 1-5 than in other parts of the country. This has given us a bigger vaccination challenge in these early weeks – and this makes me even more grateful for the team effort we have seen from staff, partners, volunteers and local communities.

And we were given a wonderful opportunity to share our progress on a national stage last week when our Chief Pharmacist Jacqui Seaton was called by HRH The Duke of Cambridge. Speaking about the experience, Jacqui said that this was such a privilege and something that will stay with her forever, and The Duke wanted Jacqui to share his thanks to everyone involved in the vaccination programme in Powys.

Invitations to people in Priority Group 6 under way

We know that the next few weeks of the vaccination programme will be complex. This is because:

  • We are in a period where first dose vaccinations are slower than in previous weeks, and
  • We are beginning to deliver vaccination for Priority Group 6, where eligibility is based on medical history or carer responsibilities, rather than date of birth.

Given these challenges, we do ask everyone to please be patient and wait to be contacted. A lot of work has been under way at a national level in recent weeks to clarify eligibility in this group, as many people will clearly want to know whether they will be included in Priority Group 6 because of underlying health conditions or carer responsibilities.

Invitations to adults with underlying health conditions will be based on the guidance provided by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. There is also more detailed guidance in the “Green Book”, which provides specialist advice on immunisation programmes. For example, people with severe asthma are included in Priority Group 6 (defined as regular use of oral corticosteroids or previously requiring hospital admission), but people with mild to moderate asthma are not in Group 6 and instead would be invited based on their age category.

More information about eligibility in Priority Group 6 for adults with underlying health conditions is available on our website at https://pthb.nhs.wales/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccination/adults-with-underlying-health-conditions/ and we will continue to update this page to reflect the latest guidance.

Certain categories of unpaid carer will also be eligible in Priority Group 6, and we expect further guidance from Welsh Government later this week. More information about eligibility in Priority Group 6 for unpaid carers is available on our website at https://pthb.nhs.wales/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccination/unpaid-carers - and we will update this once further guidance is available from Welsh Government.

Priority Group 6 is likely to be the largest group of the whole vaccination programme, and it will take several weeks before everyone receives their invitation. We do thank everyone for their patience until you receive your invitation.

Later next month we will publish information about what to do if you feel you should be in Priority Group 6 and have not yet received your invitation.

And do please remember that it remains vital for everyone to continue to follow the guidance on Hands Face Space even if you have received the vaccine. Coronavirus is still circulating in Powys, and Wales is in lockdown and alert level 4.  By following social distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and wearing a face covering we can keep ourselves and each other safe.

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


Reminder to people in Priority Groups 1-4

Over 90% of people in Priority Groups 1 to 4 have already received their vaccination. Some have not yet received their vaccination for clinical or social reasons, whilst some people will decline the vaccine. But if you know someone who has not yet been invited then please let us know so that we can make sure they are invited.

We now have a Priority Access Form for anyone in Priority Groups 1 to 4 who has not yet received their invitation. This helps us to fast-track you to an appointment:

People aged 80 and over who are registered with a GP in Powys: Over 80 in Powys and not received an invitation to vaccination? - Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)

People aged 75-79 who are registered with a GP in Powys: Age 75 to 79 - Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)

People aged 70-74 who are registered with a GP in Powys: Age 70 to 74 - Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)

Adults who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and registered with a GP in Powys: Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Adults - Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)

Remember that this group includes individuals with specific conditions:

  • solid organ transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
    • people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • people having other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • people with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • people with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell disease)
  • people on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • problems with your spleen, for example splenectomy (having your spleen removed)
  • adults with Down’s syndrome
  • adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5)

Other adults with underlying health conditions are due to be invited in Priority Group 6, for which invitations will begin soon.

Frontline health and care workers providing intimate care for people in Powys in the COVID-19 vaccination priority groups: Frontline Health and Care Workers - Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)

A priority access form will be added at the end of next week for anyone aged 65-69 who has not yet received an invitation.

If you know people who live in Powys but are registered with a GP practice outside Powys, then they will be invited for vaccination through the programme in the neighbouring county: Are you registered with a GP outside Powys? - Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)


Online Q&A Session with Carol Shillabeer

You are invited to an online event with Carol Shillabeer from 5.30pm to 6.30pm on Wednesday 3 March 2021. This will provide an opportunity to update you on the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Powys.

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 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

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.


Accessible Resources from Public Health Wales

We want to ensure that no one is left behind in our vaccination programme. As part of this commitment, Public Health Wales has produced COVID-19 vaccination information in a range of formats to increase accessibility for people across Wales.

The latest resources include information leaflets in a wide range of community languages including: Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese Cantonese, Chinese Mandarin, Kurdish Kurmanji, Kurdish Sorani, Lithuanian, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Turkish, Urdu.

The resource library also includes Easy Read leaflets, large print formats, and BSL videos.

Visit the Public Health Wales website for the latest library of accessible resources: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/immunisation-and-vaccines/covid-19-vaccination-information/accessible-information/

 


A Safe and Organised Return to School in Powys

With a safe and organised return for learners aged three to seven (Early Years and Reception classes and Years One and Two) taking place this week, Powys County Council and Powys Teaching Health Board are also reminding parents of the steps we can all take to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

The local authority and local public health experts will be writing this week to parents of returning pupils with advice and guidance to help keep families safe.

Stuart Bourne, Powys Teaching Health Board’s Director of Public Health, said:

“The pandemic has had an impact on all of our lives but our children have been affected more than most.  I know that parents will have been worried about the impact that not being at school has had on their children’s wellbeing, their friendships and their opportunity to grow and develop through a range of in and out of school activities whether that is sport, music, dance, arts or other activities.

“The steps that we have had to take as a society to protect those who are most at risk and to ensure that our health and care services can continue to care for us when we need them have been difficult but necessary.  The success of our local vaccination programme continues to provide additional protection to those who are most at risk and we will continue our efforts to reach everyone who needs a vaccination as quickly as we can.

“We are not able to relax yet, we still need to be careful and keep the levels of infection as low as possible.  In managing the pandemic locally and protecting our population I work closely with my colleagues in the Health Board, the Local Council, voluntary and community organisations and Public Health Wales but we cannot succeed without your help and that of all of our local population.”

Headteachers and all their staff have worked very hard to make Powys schools as safe as possible. But, when children go back to school it is vital that everyone continues to help to control the spread of the virus by:

  • Not sending your child to school if they are unwell even if you are not sure if it is coronavirus
  • Continue to work at home if at all possible
  • Don’t invite other children to your home to play, even outdoors and even if they are in the same bubble at school
  • Unless you have no choice, please do not accept an offer of a lift to school or other activities from other parents
  • When you take your child to school – keep your distance from other parents and don’t be tempted to hang around and chat
  • Make sure you child understands the importance of washing their hands regularly

Cllr Phyl Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Property, said: "The safety of our learners and school staff is our main priority.

"With schools now beginning the phased return of learners, it is crucial that all families play their part by following the guidance here in Wales and do not mix outside of school to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Many parents and schools' staff are concerned when they hear reports of inter-family mixing at events such as sleepovers.

"Our schools are still open for children of critical workers as well as vulnerable learners in all age groups. However, a phased approach to opening schools is important to ensure the safety of our learners and staff, therefore other year groups need to remain at home.

“I would like to thank schools for their ongoing efforts to support pupils during this difficult time and I would also like to thank parents for their patience and co-operation during this unprecedented period of disruption to our schools.

“Thank you for your help in keeping the virus in check and helping us all return to normal as soon as we can.”

Please remember, all of Wales is in lockdown (alert level 4) where people must follow national guidelines and:

  • stay at home
  • meet only the people you live with
  • work from home if you can
  • wear a face covering where required
  • wash your hands regularly
  • stay 2 metres from anyone you do not live with

Everyone should follow this guidance whether or not they have received COVID-19 vaccination.

More information about what we will all need to do at Alert Level 4 is available from the Welsh Government Website at What you need to do at alert level 4.

For more information about COVID-19 testing in Powys, visit the health board’s website at www.pthb.nhs.wales/coronavirus/coronavirus-testing


Have Your Say

Have your say on proposals for the future shape of vascular services in south east Wales (open until 16 April 2021) – these proposals mainly affect communities who access their acute hospital services in Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil:

Help shape the new radiotherapy satellite unit proposed for Nevill Hall Hospital (open until 1 March 2021):

Welsh Government wants to hear people's views on the quality of the environment at your current community health and wellbeing facilities (open until 1 March 2021):


Job Opportunities with PTHB

We have lots of great opportunities for people to join our team here at Powys Teaching Health Board:

Whether you want to join us as a staff nurse on Panpwnton Ward in Knighton, as a healthcare support worker in our mass vaccination centres, or be part of our support services team in Llanidloes – you can find all our latest vacancies on our website.


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:

Connect: