Autumn vaccine boosters hit million milestone

time:2023-06-09 06:30:23source:NBC News author:Press center4

The autumn booster programme for Covid vaccinations has passed the one million mark in Wales.

The total now stands at 1,023,594 boosters given out, according to the latest Public Health Wales figures.

But smaller proportions of key groups have been reached than earlier phases of the vaccine programme, which started two years ago this week.

Just under 78% of the over-65s have had the autumn booster and more than 86% of care home residents.

The latest boosters started being rolled out in September and around 8,300 doses are still being given out a day.

Around half of people in their 50s and early 60s have now been reached.

But this is far fewer than those who took up earlier doses of the vaccine.

Similar trends can be seen in other key groups, apart from care home residents, who have still been reached in high numbers.

So far, only just over half of healthcare workers have taken up the autumn booster offer.

There are also still more than 15,000 people - 30% - of people with a weakened immune system who have not taken up a booster yet.

Public health officials have admitted challenges in persuading people to take boosters this time round, with lives returning to normal and many people also having had the virus.

The most recent infection survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests 95.9% of adults in Wales have some protection from antibodies - through vaccination or immunity following infection.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said the vaccine programme meant far fewer cases of Covid were expected this winter.

"But we are not fully immune to the virus and we must keep our defences up," she said. "Covid-19 and flu remain a threat, especially to older people and people with other health conditions."

Wales has reached more of those in key groups than England with autumn boosters, although in a similar trend to earlier phases of the vaccine programme it is behind Scotland.

Meanwhile, figures for the flu vaccine programme, which has been run in parallel, shows similar uptake in older groups compared to the same point as last year.

But only a third of two and three-year-olds have had a flu vaccine so far, compared to more than 38% at the same point in 2021.

It was lowest in the Cardiff and Vale health board area, with less than 28% of children aged two and three being given a dose.

Only a third of NHS staff have also taken up a flu vaccine, compared to about 46% at the same point last year.

Dr Sir Frank Atherton, chief medical officer for Wales, urged people to take advantage of walk-in appointments - and for those who had not received an appointment to check with their health board.

"It's important to remember that Covid-19 has not gone away. Vaccination is still important for those in priority groups and remains our best form of defence against the virus."

Dr Chris Johnson, interim head of the vaccine programme at Public Health Wales, said it was "promising" so many people had come forward for Covid boosters.

"It is vital that people take up the offer of their Covid-19 booster and their annual flu vaccine when they receive their invitation, so that we can continue to protect the NHS this winter," he said.

The latest figures in Wales come as NHS England has urged people with weakened immune systems to take up boosters, with a third eligible still not coming forward there.

Douglas Twenefour, head of care at Diabetes UK, described vaccines as "the safest, most effective way of protecting us from coronavirus and flu", adding: "People with diabetes have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they get coronavirus.

"People with diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing serious complications from flu."

Related content
Recommended content
Hot content