Please note that this newsletter reflects the current position as at 24 March 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.
This month sees some poignant anniversaries for the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is now a year since our first confirmed cases here in Powys, since the sad reports of the first death of someone with COVID-19 was confirmed in Wales, and since the country entered the first lockdown.
We have lived with a year of grief, loss and sacrifice. We have however also lived through a year of astonishing resolve, community spirit and friendship.
When we first heard the reports of a new virus I am sure none of us imagined the impact this would have on our lives, and the impact quickly became apparent as we saw the virus spread across the world.
Looking back on the last twelve months our focus here in the NHS, and in our joint working with all partners, has been to reduce the harm of the pandemic in terms of the virus itself but also the indirect effects of strained health services, and the impact of lockdown on people and business.
The way in which people and organisations have responded to the pandemic in Powys has been frankly amazing. Health and emergency services, the military, the County Council, voluntary and community organisations, local businesses, town and community councils, politicians, local media and most importantly the people of Powys have all played a vital role in the last year. The Testing and Tracing Service was established from scratch and here in Powys is one of the best in the UK. This is followed by the tremendous work establishing the biggest vaccination programme the country has ever seen. Thank you to everyone involved in both services.
Looking to the year ahead, as hopefully the pandemic recedes, there will be challenges. We also know that waiting lists for appointments and treatments have continued to rise and there will need to be an honest conversation across the county about how health services can support people differently. We will need to do this at a time when many people working in the NHS are understandably tired after a year responding to COVID.
Despite all the challenges, I think we should feel hopeful about the year ahead. The vaccine is reducing serious illness and death from COVID-19 and with over 63,000 people already having received their first dose in Powys, we are on schedule to offer the vaccine to everyone over the age of 50 before the middle of April.
Another reason for feeling optimistic is the spirit of the people of Powys; your friendship and support for each other and for your local health service has been tremendous. This will, I know, create excellent foundations for the time ahead.
Thank you for everything you continue to do to Keep Powys Safe.
Carol Shillabeer, Chief Executive, Powys Teaching Health Board
Last week was our busiest week ever for the vaccination programme, with over 12,000 doses delivered in a single week.
Over 83,600 vaccine doses have been administered in the county so far, including 63,800 first doses and 19,800 second doses.
Over three quarters of people in Priority Groups 1-9 have already taken up the offer of the vaccine, with many more due before the middle of April. This also represents well over half the overall adult population in the county.
The big focus in the last week has been people in Priority Groups 6 and 7 – adults with underlying conditions, unpaid carers, people aged 60-64. Around 7,000 people in these categories received their first dose last week. Many more appointments are taking place this week and next, as well as for people aged 50-59. If you are in Priority Group 6 or Priority Group 7 and have not yet received your invitation there is a form on our website for you to let us know. People aged 50-59 and people aged 40-49 can join our reserve lists for short notice appointments.
Due to the variability in current supplies, all vaccinations for people aged 50-64 are being delivered through the mass vaccination centres. GP practices are not receiving vaccine supplies for people aged 50-64. If you are aged 50-64 please do not contact your GP practice for a COVID-19 vaccine as you will be invited by health board to a mass vaccination programme.
By mid-April we will have offered vaccination to everyone aged 50+. But, as you may be aware from national media coverage we do expect a dip in UK supplies during April. Please be assured that this does not affect second dose appointments, and everyone will normally be invited for their second dose appointment around 11-12 weeks after their first dose appointment. We also continue to expect to offer vaccination to everyone aged 18-49 by the end of July.
My next public Q&A session is taking place on Wednesday 7 April from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. This will be a timely opportunity to update you on vaccination for people in Priority Group 1 to 9, and on vaccine supplies for the week ahead. More information about the next public Q&A is available later in this bulletin.
Whilst further restrictions continue to be lifted, it is important to remember that we remain at Alert Level 4 in Wales. Coronavirus continues to circulate. There is good evidence that the vaccine prevents serious illness from COVID-19, but we all need to assume that we can catch the virus and transmit it even if we have had the vaccine.
Hands, Face, Space remain vital messages to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
Here in Powys we are also widening the definition of COVID-19 symptoms for accessing a test. This change is happening to help find hidden COVID-19 cases in our communities and to reduce the number of onward transmissions. Identifying infections which could otherwise go undetected is particularly important as new variants of the virus emerge and schools re-open.
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
You are invited to an online event with Carol Shillabeer from 5.30pm to 6.30pm on Wednesday 7 April 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.
The uptake of COVID-19 vaccination by people in Priority Groups 1-5 continues to climb. Over 95% of people aged 65+ have received their vaccination. Some have not yet received their vaccination for clinical or social reasons, whilst some people will have declined 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 5 who has not yet received their invitation. This helps us to fast-track you to an appointment:
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:
Adults with underlying health conditions that are included in the national eligibility criteria are in Priority Group 6 for COVID-19 vaccination. Invitations to eligible adults are continuing through March – and over 80% of people in this group have already received their first dose.
Remember that the national eligibility criteria are very specific – and they are different from the eligibility criteria for seasonal flu. For example, people with severe asthma will be invited in Priority Group 6, but people with mild to moderate asthma will be invited based on their age group. In line with national guidance, this is because: “Those with severe asthma are at increased risk and included [in Priority Group 6]. Individuals with mild to moderate asthma are not at increased risk and not recommended for vaccination by JCVI [in Priority Group 6].” They will be invited for vaccination with their age group and we aim to vaccinate everyone over the age of 18 by the end of July 2021.
More information is available from our website: Adults with underlying health conditions - Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)
We now also have an enquiry form on our website for people who have an underlying health condition that makes them eligible in Priority Group 6 but who have not received an invitation for COVID-19 vaccination.
If you are an unpaid carer and you have registered with your GP Practice on their Carers Register then you will be invited for vaccination.
If you have not registered with your GP Practice as a carer then you can use our online tool to check your eligibility and request a vaccination. You will be invited to a mass vaccination centre.
Eligibility is not dependant on receipt of carer’s allowance, membership of a carers’ organisation or being known to social services.
You can find our online eligibility tool on our website: Unpaid Carers - Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)
People aged 60-64 are in Priority Group 7. If you have not yet received our invitation there is a priority access form on our website so that you can let us know.
People aged 60-64 are being invited to mass vaccination centres for their appointment. Please do not contact your GP practice as they are not receiving vaccine supplies for this age group.
More information is available from our website: Age 60 to 64 - Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)
People aged 50-59 are in Priority Groups 8 and 9. Invitations are beginning to be issued and will continue over the next few weeks.
Everyone in these Priority Groups is due to receive their invitation by mid April and will be invited to a mass vaccination centre. This will begin with people aged 55-59 (Priority Group 8) followed by 50-54 (Priority Group 9).
People aged 50-59 can also join our reserve list:
People aged 50-59 are being invited to mass vaccination centres for their appointment. Please wait for your invitation (unless you choose to complete our reserve list form). Please do not contact your GP practice as they are not receiving vaccine supplies for this age group.
Keep checking our website for further details: https://pthb.nhs.wales/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccination/
In line with national guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, vaccination for the rest of the adult population will take place by age.
Phase 2 will begin from late April and continue to the end of July, with the oldest remaining adults first and proceeding in the following order:
But to help us with this period in late March where we have very high levels of supply, this week we have also opened a secondary reserve list for people aged 40-49 to invite you for vaccination in the event of cancellations: Reserve Lists - Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)
Then, whilst a dip in UK supplies is expected during April, the shared goal across the UK remains to offer vaccination for these age groups by the end of July.
More information about the guidance from the JCVI is available from their website: JCVI interim statement on phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccination programme - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
We have already delivered nearly 17,000 second doses in Powys. In line with UK national guidance we offer second dose appointments around 11-12 weeks after the first dose – and in some cases we have been able to offer these sooner.
Already two thirds of people in Priority Groups 1 and 2 have received double dose protection. This includes residents of care homes for older adults, care home workers, frontline health and care workers, and people aged 80 and over.
Whilst a dip in UK vaccine supplies is expected next month, this will not affect second dose appointments. We have been advised that second dose supplies are in place to offer everyone their second dose appointment 11-12 weeks after their first dose.
More information about second dose appointments is available from our website at https://pthb.nhs.wales/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccination/second-dose-appointments/
Have your say on proposals for the future shape of vascular services in south east Wales (closes 16 April 2021) – these proposals mainly affect communities who access their acute hospital services in Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil:
Share your experiences of mental health services with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (closes 16 April 2021):
Share your experiences of cancer diagnosis, treatment and care to help with Improving the Cancer Journey in Powys:
We have lots of great opportunities for people to join our team here at Powys Teaching Health Board:
Please help spread the word about our latest vacancies
Previous editions of our newsletter are available from our website.
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: