March is finally here, and with it the promise of spring, better weather, and the hope we’re closer to once more enjoying some of the freedoms we all miss so much.
Vaccination against Coronavirus is such an important step in that road back to freer times, and this month should be heralded with the news that over 100,000 vaccinations have been carried out in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
Valentine’s Day saw our first milestone reached – protecting the most vulnerable of all in our communities: people over 70; those in care homes, frontline health and care staff and people who were shielding.
But if you are in one of those groups and missed out for whatever reason, it’s not too late.
Here’s what to do:
If you or a relative is aged over 80, or have been shielding, please contact your GP to book your vaccination.
If you are aged 70 – 79, please ring 01792 530606 between 10am and 3pm Monday to Saturday or email SBU.COVIDbookingteam@wales.nhs.uk
If you are a frontline social care staff member, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Frontline health board staff should contact their line manager.
Finally, if you deliver frontline health care and work as an independent practitioner, or for an independent company, you can still have a vaccination. Please email
SBU.COVIDbookingteam@wales.nhs.uk with your name, DOB, mobile number and proof of registration.
Since last month the vaccination programme has moved on to the next priority groups, and also started second doses of the vaccines for frontline health staff.
Priority group five covers people aged 65-69, and they’ve received invitations starting with the 69-year-olds and working down in age.
Priority group six covers those who have underlying health conditions, and also carers. Like the rest of the UK, we are working to the national Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidelines about who gets vaccinated. The situation at the time this feature was written was as follows. However, this list may be subject to updates, so the latest details can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-the-green-book-chapter-14a
At the time of publication, the advice was to vaccinate people aged 16 and up with the following conditions:
- chronic respiratory disease: individuals with a severe lung condition, including those with asthma that requires continuous or repeated use of systemic steroids or with previous exacerbations requiring hospital admission, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including chronic bronchitis and emphysema; bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, interstitial lung fibrosis, pneumoconiosis and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).
- chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease
- chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
- Down’s syndrome
- severe and profound learning disability
- solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
- people with specific cancers
- immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
- asplenia and splenic dysfunction
- morbid obesity
- severe mental illness
If you fall into one of these groups, you will receive an invitation to be vaccinated.
People in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill, will also get a vaccination. We are working through the detail of this and will be updating shortly.
By the end of April, we hope to have vaccinated all these people, plus everyone else over the age of 50. By the autumn, all eligible adults in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot should have had their vaccinations.
As well as the work GPs are doing to vaccinate patients, the health board is vaccinating in our three mass vaccination centres at the Bay field hospital, Margam Orangery and in the Canolfan Gorseinon Centre. There is now a free shuttle bus service, service 51, running between Swansea’s main bus station and selected stops along the way to the Bay mass vaccination centre on Fabian Way. The service is funded by Swansea Council and operated by First Cymru.
Dr Anjula Mehta, Primary and Community Medical Director (right), said:
“The roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme within General Practice has been a phenomenal achievement on top of their routine workload.
“GPs were allocated the over- 80s, care homes and clinically extremely vulnerable groups of people, which amounts to a third of all vaccines given within Swansea Bay to date. There is a sense of pride amongst our General Practice teams. They feel honoured to play their part in this programme and epitomise the true ethos of our NHS in putting the patient at the heart of what we do and delivering care closer to home.
“But whilst we continue to fight COVID-19 in our hospitals and community, please help us to help you by washing your hands regularly, wear a face covering in public indoor places and continue to follow the two-metre social distancing rule.”