Vaccinators in Wales to ‘keep going on’ after national target missed

NHS staff administering the coronavirus vaccine in Wales are determined to “keep going on” with their work, despite the country missing out on its vaccination target, a nurse helping manage a health board’s rollout has said.

First Minister Mark Drakeford told the Senedd that the Welsh Government has missed its target to vaccinate 70% of over-80s by the end of the weekend, with only 52.8% of that age group having received the jab.

On Tuesday, Cwmbran Stadium in Cwmbran, Monmouthshire, was one of 28 mass vaccination centres in Wales in operation, with its morning and afternoon slots split between frontline healthcare workers and people aged 75 and older.

Coronavirus Wales
Coronavirus Wales

The area’s health board, Aneurin Bevan, has vaccinated the second-highest number of people, 25,952, behind only Betsi Cadwaladr in North Wales, which has vaccinated 32,265.

Alison Powell, one of the health board’s clinical controllers for its vaccination programme, said staff at the stadium who had administered jabs to up to 1,000 people a day in the past week would not want to be discouraged by missed targets set by Cardiff Bay.

Asked if the missed target would mean anything to staff on the ground, she told the PA news agency: “Yes, targets are there obviously to aim for.

“But then it’s not always that simple. We’ve only been doing this since December. There’s a learning curve, it’s new for everyone.

“We’ve moved on and developed and improved along the way. And it’s easy to have an algorithm to say you need to do A,B and C, which we need because we need to have targets, so we have things to move toward, but there’s always going to be hiccups.

Coronavirus Wales
Coronavirus Wales

“In terms of not hitting that target, we are dealing with people at the end of the day. It’s a shame, but we’ve just got to keep going.

“It’s about not wanting to be discouraged by it. It’s about going on just keep going on and making sure we learn from that.”

The First Minister said on Tuesday that the missed vaccine target was affected by snowfall across Wales over the weekend, but Ms Powell said vaccine centres in the health board area were not forced to close their doors.

Ms Powell, who worked as a psychiatric nurse before her pandemic role, said criticism on the pace of Wales’ rollout in recent weeks had been “frustrating” for those administering vaccines, but said staff had remained positive.

She said: “It can be frustrating to hear that, when you know how many hours we’re putting in and the amount of hours people are doing on top of their normal jobs.

“But it doesn’t stop people from coming in to work. It’s always a good atmosphere, people are here to look out for one another.”