WQ90524 (e) Tabled on 18/01/2024

What assessment has been made of the uptake amongst people eligible for Covid-19 booster vaccines?

Answered by Minister for Health and Social Services | Answered on 30/01/2024

I am disappointed with the uptake rates for the COVID-19 booster as part of this year’s Winter Respiratory Vaccination Programme.  Throughout the programme, uptake levels have been closely monitored and assessed at both a local and national level.  As it became clear there were challenges with uptake, I have prioritised ensuring those challenges were addressed as effectively as possible, as vaccination is one of the safest and most effective ways to protect our citizens and our health service.

In November, I asked Vaccination Programme Wales in the NHS Executive to work with health boards to ensure a concerted effort was being made in every area of Wales to maximise uptake.  As part of this effort Public Health Wales ran an additional communications campaign in December, which coincided with health boards moving to a walk-in model as further efforts were made to remove barriers to vaccination.

In response to disappointing levels of uptake amongst NHS staff with direct patient contact, I met with the medical Royal Colleges in November to seek their support with increasing uptake amongst healthcare staff.   At this meeting, the Royal Colleges offered to further promote vaccination amongst their members and my officials worked with them to facilitate this.

Throughout this year’s Winter Respiratory Vaccination Programme actions have been taken swiftly to respond to sub-optimal uptake levels.   Though the 2023/24 programme has not yet concluded, work has already begun on analysing data and insight at a local and national level to identify lessons, which will inform planning for the 2024/25 programme.