Covid vaccine: Gwynedd pharmacy 'first in Wales to offer jab'

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Media caption,

The pharmacy in Gwynedd is offering the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab

A pharmacy has become the first in Wales to offer Covid jabs, as community vaccine trials begin.

Fifty people with appointments are to visit the pharmacy near Pwllheli, Gwynedd, on Friday to receive their first shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The pilot has begun in pharmacies in Betsi Cadwaladr health board.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said community pharmacists can help with vaccinations "in more than one way".

It follows a letter from Community Pharmacy Wales to Wales' health minister which said there was an "urgent need" to use pharmacies in Wales to help roll out coronavirus vaccines.

UK Government figures show 126,375 people in Wales, 4% of the population, have received their first coronavirus jab so far.

That compares with 4.1% (224,840) in Scotland, 4.9% in England (2,769,164) and 6% (114,567) in Northern Ireland.

Hundreds more pharmacies in Wales will offer the jab in the next two weeks.

Rosie Bennett, one of the patients to receive a vaccination at Fferyllwyr H L Taylor Pharmacy in Llanbedrog, said getting her vaccine was a "small step to a better future".

The 82-year-old said: "I don't have a car, so it was a huge relief to know that I wouldn't have to travel a long distance to have the vaccine.

"Here in the village, we know the staff at the chemists. They've been doing a great job during the pandemic and it's reassuring to have the vaccine from someone you know."

Steffan John, the pharmacist who administered the vaccine to Rosie, said the staff are "really pleased to do their bit for the community".

Pharmacist Llyr Hughes, who runs four pharmacies, including Fferyllwyr H L Taylor Pharmacy, said "vaccinating at scale" was the "only way out of the pandemic".

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales Breakfast, Mr Hughes said he expected the rollout to happen "very quickly across all community pharmacies in Wales".

"I don't forsee any big problems," he said.

"Community pharmacists have a wealth of experience in delivering flu vaccinations.

"We will tailor our work model to accommodate for this, as we did for the flu vaccine."

'Easier access'

Mr Hughes said his pharmacy will have vaccinated in the region of more than 100 people by Saturday afternoon.

He added: "If we can deliver locally we can provide easier access to older patients."

He explained local patients would be contacted about an appointment for the vaccine at the pharmacy.

Mr John said that the vaccine comes in vials of ten doses which means it's "important to vaccinate that many people at a time and not to waste any".

Image caption,
Llyr Hughes who runs Fferyllwyr H L Taylor Pharmacy said 50 patients will be vaccinated today

'Early stages'

However, Mr Drakeford told Friday's Welsh Government press briefing that not all pharmacy premises would be suitable to deliver the Covid vaccines.

He said some community pharmacists could be asked to administer vaccinations at mass vaccination centres instead, in cases where spaces for vaccinations are small at pharmacies with high volumes of people.

Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the rollout was still in the "early stages" of the "largest vaccination programme Wales has ever seen".

"People can be expected to be asked to attend either a mass or community centre, hospital, GP practice, pharmacy or mobile unit," he added.

Mr Gething said a mix of vaccination sites and centres were chosen so "everyone across the country has equal access to a vaccination".

He added that people will be notified for an appointment, and before that they should not call GPs or health services to request a vaccine and "add undue pressure" to their workloads.

Plaid Cymru's health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth said Wales' vaccination programme was "improving far, far too slowly".

"As important as it is that we have one pharmacy doing it, what's happening in all the others?"

Paul Davies, leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd, said it was clear Wales was "lagging behind" the rest of the UK on delivering the vaccinations.

"It's certainly not happening quickly enough, we need to see the Welsh Government stepping up to the plate," he said.

The Welsh Government has said more pharmacists and other primary care services, such as dentists and opticians - are being invited to help with the rollout, subject to vaccine supply.