Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies is calling on the Welsh Government and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) to take immediate action to introduce mass walk-in and pop-up vaccination centres which are open to all across North Wales, to ensure that those eligible to receive a booster vaccination can do so before the New Year.
Following the announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that everyone eligible aged 18+ will have the chance to receive their booster jab before January 1st 2022, plans are in place to massively ramp up capacity in England to offer as many jabs as possible.
James is therefore calling for North Wales to follow suit and has contacted both BCUHB and the First Minister urging them to "up their game".
“In other parts of the UK, people are set to be given ample opportunity to receive their booster jab, with simple online booking alongside mass walk-in vaccination centres at accessible locations. It is deeply concerning that here in North Wales, some patients may struggle to obtain their third covid vaccine.
“Many GP surgeries and pharmacies can play an increased role in providing vaccinations, but in light of the scale of the operation in front of us, this will simply not be enough.
"Opening hours can be increased at the existing vaccination sites, such as the OpTic Centre in St Asaph, but this approach also has its limitations and as I have previously said, St Asaph Business Park is not an easy place for everyone to get to – particularly for the elderly and those who don't drive.
"Even before the New Year target was set, I received numerous emails from constituents about the difficulties they were experiencing accessing the booster, and getting through to rearrange appointments on the booking hotline.
“Given the scientific evidence about how quickly the new Omicron variant is spreading, and the protection that a third ‘booster’ vaccination can provide, more needs to be done, and quickly.
“We need to see the introduction of mass walk-in and pop-up vaccination centres throughout the region, open to all, and located in easy to access places such as supermarket car parks and town centres. Making booster vaccination easy will increase uptake, helping to minimise hospitalisations and deaths and reduce the need for unpopular and damaging Covid restrictions this winter. I am pleased to see that the Health Board has now developed its own online booking facility, although I worry this will not be as effective as the simple and easily located national system which has been in place in England throughout.
“Staff and volunteers in North Wales have responded to the call time and time again and are ready to take on this latest challenge. I am therefore urging the Health Board and the Welsh Government to raise their game. Only by being ambitious will we meet the challenge ahead of us."