The number of armed forces personnel supporting the Welsh Government in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is to be more than doubled, it has been announced.
The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart and the Defence Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey have approved a Military Aid to the Civilian Authorities (MACA) request from the Welsh Government. A further 96 service personnel are to be deployed to carry out a range of tasks in Wales, including 20 defence medics who will have the role of boosting capacity by leading teams of vaccinators in local areas.
The service personnel will be deployed from Saturday. The UK Government has already provided 92 service personnel to support in the establishment and operations of vaccination centres in Wales, following a request from the Welsh Government in December.
There are currently over 5,000 Armed Forces personnel on Coronavirus-related tasks in the UK and abroad. Some of the tasks have involved setting up vaccination centres, assisting in the rollout of vaccines and in Wales, service personnel have been assisting ambulance services, including with drivers and medics.
Today marks the 60th day since COVID-19 vaccinations began in Wales, and also marks the day when more than half a million people in the country have received their first vaccine dose. So far, more than 523,000 people have had a first COVID-19 vaccine dose in Wales, amounting to around 1 in 6 Welsh adults.
After some early criticism of the Welsh Government for a slow rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Wales has this week been leading the UK for the rolling rate of COVID-19 vaccinations given per population. There are around 34 mass vaccination centres open across Wales at any one time, more than 400 GP-led clinics and more than 17 hospital sites in Wales providing vaccinations against COVID-19.
The Welsh Government has said that it is on track to offer vaccinations to all eligible people in the top four priority groups by mid-February, provided supplies continue at their current rate.
Research is ongoing to find out more about the effects of the vaccines of virus transmission, but it is hoped that it will be safe to ease lockdown restrictions gradually over the coming months as more people are vaccinated.
Who has been vaccinated in Wales?
The following percentages of people in the top four priority groups (as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation – JCVI) have received their first dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 in Wales (as of 5 February, according to Welsh Government data);
- Over 80-year-olds – 83%
- 75 to 79-year-olds – 62%
- 70 to 74-year-olds – 34%
More than 112,400 frontline health and social care workers have also been vaccinated.
The Government is targeting to offer a first vaccine dose to all eligible people in the above groups by 15 February.
Over 1,200 people have received a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Wales.