Community leaders have welcomed confirmation that residents will soon be able to have their Covid-19 booster jabs at more local venues.
Member of the Senedd Ken Skates raised the matter with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) on behalf of constituents in Chirk after being approached by local councillor Frank Hemmings, who was concerned at people asked to travel more than 10 miles to Wrexham’s Catrin Finch Centre at Glyndŵr University.
But BCUHB has now confirmed to Mr Skates that more local venues will be used over the coming weeks – with Plas Madoc Leisure Centre set to reopen as a vaccination clinic on October 19.
Cllr Hemmings said: “It’s not an easy round trip for the older and more vulnerable people who are being prioritised for booster jabs, particularly if they’re having to use public transport, so I’m glad Ken has been able to get this reassurance for local people.”
Clwyd South MS Mr Skates added: “I’m extremely grateful to BCUHB chief executive Jo Whitehead for responding so quickly to the concerns we raised on behalf of people in Chirk, and it’s really pleasing to hear that the health board will soon be rolling out booster jabs to more local venues.
“Offering and administering a third round of vaccinations is going to be another big challenge for the health board, but given the way they have already delivered the first two doses I think we can all have full confidence that we’re in good hands.”
In her response to Mr Skates, Jo Whitehead said: “We are putting in place and activating plans to offer vaccinations at multiple locations to provide ease of access to local residents. However, we did not want to delay offering booster vaccinations for the highest priority groups. As we are able to start offering boosters immediately in our main vaccination centres, including Catrin Finch for Wrexham county borough, we have begun issuing invitations as soon as possible, while we continue to finalise the wider arrangements.
“With GPs gradually returning to more of business as usual, we recognise that primary care will not have capacity to offer the same level of support as with the initial vaccination roll out. In addition, the boosters will be predominantly using the Pfizer vaccine, which has more complex handling arrangements, making very localised small-scale vaccination impractical.
“We have therefore been exploring use of our community hospital estate and a network of around 30 identified sites across north Wales to run ad hoc clinics at a local level.
“For Chirk and surrounding areas, Plas Madoc Leisure Centre will restart vaccination activity 19th October. Sessions will take place on Tuesdays and Saturdays on alternate weeks through to December for residents registered with the four practices in South Wrexham that haven’t signed up to offer boosters in practice (Llangollen, Chirk, Gardden Rd and Hanmer). Appointment letters for these sessions started to be sent out over the last weekend.
“Anyone receiving a letter who already has an appointment at Catrin Finch can call to rebook into Plas Madoc if they prefer.
“The other GP practices in the area will be inviting the over 75 cohort to attend their surgeries for their boosters. Those aged under 75 in the initial priority groups will be offered an appointment at Catrin Finch or Plas Madoc, and will have the option to rebook at the location if more convenient.
“As the booster programme progresses, once the vaccination work in care homes and for housebound individuals has been completed, we will use local case rate and vaccination uptake data to guide deployment of mobile vaccination units to areas in North Wales.”