Will the Minister outline the rationale for not adopting an online booking system for COVID-19 vaccinations, as seen in other countries?
At the start of the vaccination rollout, we adopted an informed strategy of proactively providing vaccination appointments to the vast majority of the population in order of clinical need. Providing these proactive appointments aligned well with the existing operational system in Wales, but more importantly helped us ensure that everyone with a registered GP would be given an appointment which they were more likely to keep, without people having to come to us to ask for one. This also helped with the management of limited vaccine supply.
Health boards adopted additional methods, such as mobile vaccinations and walk in appointments. This activity was linked, along with letter based appointments, by a common Welsh digital system. Our strategy therefore did not require a public facing vaccination booking service at the time.
We know that at this stage of the COVID-19 response, flexibility and convenience to fit vaccinations around people’s lives becomes important in ensuring its success. For this reason we are in the process of developing a service to help people manage their appointments online, which aligns with our existing operational strategy. This service will be available early in the New Year.