We wanted to write to you all to update you on our COVID-19 vaccination programme.
We know - and we completely understand – that with the new Omicron variant in the UK, many of you are anxious to have your booster or second dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Following Monday’s JCVI announcements, many of you want to know exactly when you will be having it.
This week’s new guidance expands the booster programme to all adults (over 18) and recommends second doses for people under 18. It also reduces the period between second dose and booster from 26 weeks to 13 weeks (although 13 weeks is the minimum point you can be offered a booster, it does not mean you are overdue once that 13 weeks has passed).
It is a big expansion, it is complex, and there is only a short space of time for us to achieve everything.
While we plan for lots of different events and outcomes, we hear when changes are actually going to happen at the same time as you. When the JCVI or Welsh Government makes an announcement, we immediately start working on how we are going to implement the new guidance. We ask ourselves - do we need new vaccination centres? Where will we find new staff who are trained or can be trained to give vaccinations? Can we increase the number of appointments? All this involves a lot of people working long hours and working fast to make it happen, while keeping up the current rate of vaccine appointments.
We have been here before though. We have met, and exceeded every challenge so far in this huge vaccination programme, and, with your help, we will meet and achieve these next challenges.
We are determined to offer you your vaccines as quickly and as safely as possible. You are our priority.
We do need to ask for your patience as we implement these changes.
Since the national announcements were made the Health Board’s phone lines (including our GP practices’) and our social media channels have been overwhelmed with people wanting to know when their booster appointment is.
As we said right at the start of this letter we totally understand, and appreciate, this is an anxious time.
We are asking you to trust us.
We will contact you when it is your turn to come forward. If you have had your first and second dose, we have your contact details, you will not be forgotten and we will make sure nobody is left behind.
Please do not phone our booking phone lines, unless you need to cancel or rearrange an appointment. There is no need to contact us, or your GP, to ask about an appointment. You cannot book an appointment at this stage of the programme.
We would also ask that when you receive an appointment, you do your absolute best to prioritise and keep it. Due to the scale of this expansion, attending on the time and date you are booked in will really help us. If you are an employer in Cwm Taf Morgannwg, we also ask for your support if your staff have an appointment during their working hours.
We have already begun to book extra appointments, starting from Monday (December 6). We have added an extra 10,000 appointment slots to our schedules, and will continue to increase that number for the rest of this month.
This means you may get a text message from us rather than an appointment letter. It may be quite short notice. Our aim is to send out appointments in order of age and priority group, but due to the speed we are working at you may hear of a small number of people younger than you being offered their booster.
Some people have been sharing text message appointments with contact details. Please do not do this. If you contact us using information sent to another person, we will not be able to book you an appointment.
We hope this latest information helps.
We will keep you updated every step of the way through this.
Elsewhere in the vaccination programme, we are now sending out appointment letters for 16 and 17 year olds to come forward for their second dose. From next week, we will be doing the same for 12-15 year olds. We are continuing to work through our housebound lists, and we will get to you or your relative as soon as possible.
Remember, if you are, 18 and over, and still to have your first or second dose then you can walk-in to our community vaccination centres. You can find more information on our website here: COVID-19 Vaccine Information - Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (nhs.wales)
Since day one of this vaccination programme, you have supported us. We thank you for that and for continuing to work with us to protect everyone in Cwm Taf Morgannwg. Vaccinations save lives.
The Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB COVID-19 vaccination team