Welsh Government misses target of vaccinating 70% of over-80s by January 25

Claire Hayhurst, PA
·4-min read

The Welsh Government has missed its target to vaccinate 70% of over-80s by the end of the weekend, First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed.

Mr Drakeford told the Welsh Parliament that the aim was affected by adverse weather, with a “large number” of over-80s not feeling it was safe for them to leave their homes in the snow and ice.

Figures released on Tuesday show 96,830 of those aged over 80 in Wales have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, accounting for 52.8% of that age group.

The data, from Public Health Wales, says 67.6% of care home residents and 74.6% of care home staff have received their first dose of the vaccine.

A target of vaccinating 70% of each of the three groups by January 25 had previously been set by the Welsh Government.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Mr Drakeford told the Senedd on Tuesday: “Our ambition is to vaccinate all people or offer vaccination to all people in those top four groups by the middle of February, that continues to be our ambition.

“The aim of getting 70% of the 80-plus age range was affected over the weekend by the adverse weather.

“We know that a large number of people aged over 80 did not feel that it was safe for them to leave their homes in the snow and yesterday morning in very cold and icy conditions and weren’t able to attend appointments at GP clinics or in mass vaccination centres.

“All of those people will have been offered another opportunity for vaccination by the end of Wednesday of this week, so we will very rapidly make up for that number.

“The figures of people being offered vaccination and able to take it up in Wales over the last week have been remarkable and that should give us all confidence that we will have offered vaccination to everyone in that group, in line with the ambition that we set out at the outset.”

On Monday, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said he would not know whether the Welsh Government had hit the 70% target for another “day or two”.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford (Ben Birchall/PA)

He told a press conference in Cardiff that a lag in reporting data meant the true figure of vaccination as of Sunday evening, when the target was meant to have been reached, would not likely be known before Wednesday.

Mr Drakeford told the Senedd on Tuesday that data was still “coming in” but figures the Welsh Government had showed 72% of people living and working in care homes have received their first dose of the vaccine.

“We will not reach the 70% for over-80s because of the interruption to the programme of vaccination that happened on Sunday and Monday morning,” Mr Drakeford said.

“I won’t have people over-80 feeling pressurised to come out to be vaccinated when they themselves feel that it is not safe for them to do so.

“All of those people will have been offered a further opportunity to be vaccinated by the end of Wednesday.

“We are on track to deliver what we said we would, which is to have made an offer of vaccination to everybody in the top four priority groups by the middle of February.”

Mr Drakeford said on Tuesday of last week, 162,000 people had been vaccinated in Wales. This Tuesday, figures show 290,000 people have received their first dose of the vaccine.

“That is the fastest rate of increase of any part of the United Kingdom,” Mr Drakeford said.

But Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, told the First Minister: “What we’re seeing constantly is targets being missed by your Government.

“People of Wales want to know the speed and the rollout is catching up with other parts of the United Kingdom, and when you set yourself a target, you hit the target.

“It’d be far better if when you make a commitment, you stick to it.”

Over the weekend, only 6,295 vaccinations were carried out due to snow across Wales which saw four vaccine centres close.

Wales now has an incidence rate of 219 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people, down from 270 cases per 100,000 on Friday.

Figures published by Public Health Wales show the latest seven-day test positivity rate across Wales is 14.9%.

On Tuesday, the agency said there were a further 570 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 189,152.

It reported another eight deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 4,561.