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COVID-19 Vaccination Newsletter 9 April 2021 (html version)

Please note that this newsletter reflects the current position as at 9 April 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.

Dear Colleagues

Over the Easter weekend our teams reached the amazing milestone of 100,000 doses delivered in the county. Since then we have also reached 80,000 first doses, which means that well over two thirds of the adult population have been vaccinated.

Here are some of the key headlines this week:

  • With reserve lists now open for all adults, we are well ahead of our target of offering everyone in Priority Groups 1 to 9 an appointment by the middle of April. This was Milestone 2 in the national vaccination strategy, and we have already moved past this and we are vaccinating under 50s.
  • The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MRHA) have published updated guidance on the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. Specifically, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised that it is preferable for adults aged 18-29 years without underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe disease, to be offered an alternative COVID-19 vaccine to AstraZeneca, if available. AstraZeneca remains recommended for all adults with underlying health conditions including those aged 18-29. We have adopted this guidance in Powys, and there is more information later in this newsletter. We continue to encourage everyone to take up vaccination as an important step to protect themselves and to continue the journey of recovery in Powys.
  • It remains the case that UK vaccine supplies will reduce later in April. This is outside our local control. After a very busy few weeks this means that the pace of first dose appointments will fall from their current peak, before they rise again later in the spring when supplies increase once more. Peaks and troughs in supply are very much expected as part of such a major vaccination programme. And, we remain on schedule to offer vaccination to everyone aged 18 and over by the end of July (Milestone 3 in the national vaccination strategy). In fact, 14% of adults under 50 have already received their first dose.
  • Second dose appointments are not affected by the change in supplies. You should still expect an invitation for an appointment 11-12 weeks after your first dose. Some supplies of Pfizer/BioNTech for second dose appointments arrived sooner than we had originally anticipated, which means that some second dose appointments with Pfizer/BioNTech have taken place earlier than 11-12 weeks.
  • More than 93% of people in Priority Groups 1-9 have already received their first dose, and nearly a third have double dose protection. This also means that nearly 70% of the total adult population in Powys have had their first vaccination. 

This week in our “Vaccination Heroes” series we have focused on colleagues from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service who have recently joined our programme.

In the last few weeks a new group of vaccine heroes has joined our team and while they are new to vaccination, they are not new to being heroes.

If you have been to either Builth or Newtown Mass Vaccination Centre recently you may have seen a new uniform on show – fire fighters.

We have teamed up with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue to help with the vaccination process and 10 fire officers have joined the team delivering vaccinations. Initially seconded for three months, these fire fighters are really helping with the efforts to vaccinate as many people in Powys as possible, as quickly as possible.

Ffion Evans is an on-call fire fighter as well as being a personal trainer. She said “I’m loving working alongside the health board staff. It’s nice to be doing something different and to be able to help. Sometimes people are a little surprised to see us here, but with the military being involved as well people are appreciative of how so many different groups are working together to deliver the vaccine.”

Neil Morrison is also an on-call fire fighter and also runs his own printing business. He explained “It’s hard work but it’s great to be able to do my bit. The quicker we can get everybody vaccinated the better. I became a fire fighter to help people and so when the chance came to help with vaccinations it seemed the right thing to do. We work here when we are not on-call so there is no risk of us having to rush off on a shout!”

Tim Nettleton is another on-call fire fighter and also an Arborist. Tim also used to be in the RAF. He told me “Being a vaccinator has been a great opportunity to help and also to meet people. Having a shared background with colleagues from the RAF who are also working here has helped to bring the different teams together. It’s a really great team and everyone works well as a unit.”

Chris Davies, Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “We collaborate with our multi-agency partners, across a wide range of activities, in order to serve our communities in the most effective manner.

The response of our colleagues in the National Health Service has been exceptional during this global pandemic and I am pleased that Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service can assist Powys Teaching Health Board to distribute vaccines at its mass vaccination sites in Newtown and Builth Wells.

Whilst we already collaborate with the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and Hywel Dda University Health Board, this opportunity allows us to expand our assistance further within the health arena. Now we have a model in place, we are in a position to provide support to other partners within mid and west Wales as required.

Our relationship with the people we serve puts us in a unique position. On top of this our staff are community focused and trained to work with people from all walks of life. This combination has allowed us to react quickly to this request for assistance.

This partnership is one that is going to make a positive impact on our response to this global pandemic and we are pleased to be able play our part and collaborate with our NHS partners to change the lives of many people.”

Over the past four months of vaccination the makeup of the team has changed slightly with new groups of staff coming into the process. But the one thing that has never changed is the teamwork and determination to protect the community.

Thank you to all of our heroes.

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, Fresh Air remain vital messages to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

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.

Update from Public Health Wales on Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine and Extremely Rare Blood Clots

Public Health Wales supports the expert scientific advice of UK expert groups that the benefits of vaccination with all COVID-19 vaccines in use continue to outweigh the risks of COVID-19. COVID-19 has caused over 120,000 deaths in the UK, with an average of 30 deaths a day still being reported. The vaccination programme has already saved over 6,000 lives. 

Following reports of an extremely rare and specific blood clot after vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) confirmed on 7 April 2021 that this type of blood clot with low platelets (sticky cells) are a possible side effect of the vaccine. However, they continue to advise that the benefits of vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine continue to outweigh the risks of COVID-19 for the vast majority of adults.

Public Health Wales is aware of one confirmed case of this extremely rare type of clot in Wales after receiving AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine among over 1 million people who have received that vaccine. 

The expert scientific advice from the JCVI is that risk benefit remains strongly in favour of vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine for those aged 30 and over, and those aged under 30 who have underlying health conditions which puts them at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection.

However, JCVI advise that adults aged 18-29 years old who do not have underlying health conditions should be offered an alternative vaccine balancing risks and benefits. Health Boards in Wales will be offering alternative vaccines to this group, while continuing to offer all available vaccines at all other ages. 

Those who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine irrespective of age, should continue to receive a second dose. To date there have been no confirmed cases of the extremely rare and specific blood clots after receiving the second dose of the vaccine.    

Dr Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Diseases Programme at Public Health Wales said: 

“The risk of these extremely rare blood clots is extremely low and the risk benefit in comparison to contracting COVID-19 disease is still very much in favour of vaccination. 

“For example, the risk of people in their 40s dying if they catch COVID-19 is 1,000 per million, so if 1 million in their 40s caught COVID-19 then 1,000 would die, 10,000 would be hospitalised and 160,000 would get ‘long COVID’. If all 1 million were vaccinated with two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine it would prevent over 900 deaths, 9,000 hospitalisations and 145,000 cases of long COVID, with the possibility there would be four cases of rare blood clot events and one additional death. 

“No medicine or vaccine we receive is without risk and we accept these very low risks because of the benefits we receive. For example, the risk of blood clots in women who take the Oral Contraceptive Pill is higher than those not taking the pill, and this is accepted because of the benefits.     

“Common side effects after vaccination are normal and expected. For all approved vaccines in the UK, these side effects can include a sore arm, feeling tired, headache, mild aches or flu like symptoms, and a mild fever that normally last up to two or three days after vaccination.

“If an individual experiences the following symptoms starting four days to four weeks after the vaccine they should seek medical care promptly:

  • New severe headache which does not respond to simple painkillers
  • An unusual headache which seems worse when lying down or bending over
  • Headache accompanied by blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, weakness, drowsiness or seizures
  • Unexplained pin-prick rash or bruising away from injection site
  • Shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain.

“Public safety remains at the forefront of our concerns and MHRA will continue to monitor vaccine safety working closely with JCVI and this issue will be kept under review.

“Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 disease.”

Useful information is also available from our website: Information about COVID-19 vaccination and extremely rare blood clots - Powys Teaching Health Board (

Online Q&A Session with Carol Shillabeer

If you were unable to join our online Q&A session with Carol Shillabeer on Wednesday 7 April you can still watch it online via this link.

We will publicise dates of further online Q&A sessions soon.

Latest information on COVID-19 Vaccination

You can find all the latest information about COVID-19 vaccination on our website.

Have Your Say on the future of health services

Last chance to 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:

Last chance to 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:

Job Opportunities

We have lots of great opportunities for people to join our team here at Powys Teaching Health Board. For example, we are recruiting more COVID-19 Immunisers to join our team in Newtown.

You can find all our current opportunities on our website:

Please help spread the word about our latest vacancies.

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: