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First Minister outlines ambitious aim to offer all eligible adults a booster appointment by end of year

Written by on 13th December 2021

First Minister Mark Drakeford has set out Wales’ aim to offer all eligible adults an appointment for a booster vaccine by the end of December.

Urgent plans are being put in place to further accelerate the booster programme as new evidence has emerged showing two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are not enough to offer protection against the new omicron variant.

But the booster dose is vital in improving protection against the fast-moving variant.

In a televised message to Wales, the First Minister will say:

We must be prepared for omicron cases to rise quickly and very steeply – just as they have in other parts of the UK.

We are still learning about this new form of coronavirus. All the information we have tells us we are facing a very serious situation. By the end of the month, omicron will have become the dominant form of the virus in Wales, bringing a new wave of infections and illness.

This could then translate into a large number of people needing hospital treatment just at a time when the NHS is already under significant pressure. The Welsh Government will do everything we can to protect people’s health and keep Wales safe.

New evidence has emerged about the effectiveness of our vaccines against omicron. Two doses of the vaccine is simply not enough to give the level of protection against the infection we all need. We have already increased the speed of the roll-out of our booster programme. New clinics have been opened and operating hours extended. Urgent efforts are now underway to accelerate the programme even further so we can offer all eligible adults an appointment by the end of this year if possible.

Please make getting a booster a priority, as it is the single most important things you can do to protect yourself against coronavirus and this new variant.”

The First Minister will add:

None of us wanted to hear the news of a new omicron variant. After almost two long years of the pandemic, we had all hoped that we could put coronavirus behind us this Christmas. Unfortunately, we are once again facing a serious and worsening situation. But, we have faced challenges many times during this pandemic.

We can once again pull together to look out for each other – for friends, family and neighbours – to protect each other and keep ourselves safe and well. We have already taken some steps to increase protections in Wales and we may need to take some further steps to keep Wales safe.”

Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said:

Whilst it is encouraging that all indications show Omicron is a milder form of the virus, it is more transmissible and it’s clear booster jabs are a vital defence against the variant. Therefore, it is essential that government infrastructure is geared up to deliver boosters on a war-like scale.

The system clearly needs to be modernised to introduce more dynamism and flexibility like online booking systems, especially considering the numerous questions over how normalised regular jabs are going to become.

After heeding our calls for walk-in centres and reactivation of the volunteer army, Labour’s Health Minister should now extend the hours during which people are vaccinated, making greater use of community pharmacists, reopening mass vaccination centres, and prioritising boosters over jabs for teenagers.

We do not need more restrictions if a critical mass of people get their jabs. There is a duty on all those eligible to get their vaccination and the Labour Government has a responsibility to deliver the rollout rapidly. A free society and an open economy depend on it.”