Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies has written to the First Minister urging him to release stockpiled Pfizer vaccine doses “to allow at risk individuals to receive the protection that they need and to bring this miserable pandemic to an end.”
In the letter James expresses concern that little over a quarter of Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) groups 1 and 2 in North Wales have been vaccinated, with the vast majority of these being health and social care workers and not patients.
He states that his constituents have been “incensed” by the First Minister’s plan to “drip feed” supplies of Pfizer vaccine over the coming days and weeks and calls on Mr Drakeford to urgently reassess the vaccine rollout programme in Wales.
His letter states:
“While it is clear to me that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was poorly prepared for the initial arrival of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, it is also evident that direction from above has been woeful. There appears to have been a failure to understand the need to vaccinate as many as possible as soon as possible. This lack of urgency meant that it took public pressure for your administration to seek to match the UK Government’s target that all within Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) groups 1-4 be vaccinated by mid-February.
“Many of my constituents were incensed when they heard of your plan to “drip feed” supplies of Pfizer vaccine over the coming days and weeks. As the British Medical Association has indicated, this makes no sense whatsoever to stockpile tens of thousands of doses, and it puts lives unnecessarily at risk.
“While I understand that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is easier to handle, it is the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine which is currently in greater supply. This has been successfully administered via local primary care teams in other parts of the UK, including in very rural areas. There is no reason why the same cannot be achieved in Wales and as you will be aware, the Army have been made available to assist with logistics, should this be helpful.
“As of today, little over a quarter of JCVI groups 1 and 2 in North Wales have been vaccinated. The vast majority of these are health and social care workers and not patients. In comparison, in some areas of England, virtually all care home residents, over 80 year olds, extremely vulnerable patients and health and social care workers have already received the vaccine, and attention has moved onto groups 3 and 4. “
“As you are aware, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to bring about enormous sadness and isolation, financial hardship, and loss of educational opportunities. Your view that ‘it is not a sprint’ to administer the vaccine and that ‘there would be no point in using the vaccine in the first week and then having the vaccinators standing around with nothing to do’ has caused widespread understandable anger.
“On behalf of thousands of anxious residents in my constituency, I would request in the strongest terms that the stockpiled Pfizer doses be released, to allow at risk individuals to receive the protection that they need and to help bring this miserable pandemic to an end.”
In the letter, James also challenges the First Minister over the data being used to identify target groups for vaccination and called for reassurances that all those vulnerable patients who fall within JCVI priority groups 4 and 6 will receive efficient and timely invitations for vaccination.
He added: “Many of my elderly and extremely vulnerable constituents are asking me when they are likely to receive their vaccination. The mid-February target date will require vaccination to occur at five times the rate as in the preceding four weeks. Regrettably, I have little confidence that your current plans can achieve this and, on behalf of the 184,392 North Wales residents in groups 1-4, I ask that you do all you can to remedy the situation."