Delyth Jewell, who represents Plaid Cymru, is one of four regional Senedd Members serving the South Wales East region.
We’re very lucky to be living in a time when vaccinations exist. Were it not for the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines, we would have no way out of this nightmare which has affected all our lives so deeply this past year.
Although the Welsh Government was initially slow off the mark compared with other governments in administrating the vaccines, things have improved this week, and it’s really heartening to learn that Aneurin Bevan Health Board has given 55,000 vaccinations already.
I’m sure that I speak for many of you by saying that we’re all so grateful to the vaccination teams for working so hard to protect us, and for all the doctors, nurses and carers who have risked their own safety to help people over a gruelling ten-month period.
I’m getting a lot of queries at the moment from people who want to know when they’ll receive the vaccine.
Whilst Plaid Cymru agrees with the Welsh Government’s general strategy of prioritising those who need it most when it comes to the vaccine roll out (starting with care homes, elderly people and frontline NHS and social care staff), I know that there are some groups and individuals who feel that they’ve been neglected.
I raised this with the First Minister this week, asking him to remember about all the unpaid carers who’ve been marginalised so often during this pandemic, and who should surely be able to receive the vaccine at the same time as those they’re caring for.
The First Minister responded by saying that he was following the specialist advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and that there are many groups who could make the case for being prioritised, but that it isn’t possible to prioritise everyone.
I do, of course, sympathise with the fact that there are limited numbers of vaccines available to administer at any one time, and I know that difficult choices have to be made. But I also feel that unpaid carers are being let down once again here, and I’ll continue to make this case on their behalf.
Lots of you have raised concerns with me about the fact that the UK is alone in being the only state in the world that’s allowing up to 12 weeks between giving the first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine – as there’s no data to show what effect this will have on the vaccine’s efficacy.
I asked the Health Minister to bring the second dose forward for NHS workers, as I know that many of our key workers are worried about having to work on the frontline for so long without full protection. Again, I was disappointed to hear that the government wasn’t going to consider changing the policy, as the Minister argued that giving some protection to a greater number of people is better than giving full protection to fewer people. Surely, though, we need to remember that we’re talking about frontline staff who’ve already sacrificed so much on behalf of others. They deserve better than this.
I’ve also been helping constituents who are housebound and unable to attend their vaccine appointments, as well as trying to help with problems relating to the health board’s vaccine hotline. In addition to this, I’ve championed the need to remember the people who are living in supported living.
I’ll do all I can to continue raising awareness of these issues and to raise the concerns directly with the Welsh Government. If you’re reading this and have your own fears or concerns, please get in touch with me by emailing Delyth.Jewell@Senedd.Wales
I will end with a plea. When you receive an invitation to have the vaccine, please take up the offer. Because when you have the vaccination, you’re not only protecting yourself – you’re also protecting everyone you come into contact with: your friends, your neighbours, and everyone you hold dear. We all have a moral duty to have the vaccine, for the sake of all our loved ones.
We’ll all have the vaccine eventually, of course, and that will give us the chance to meet our friends again – to celebrate the little miracles in our lives, to enjoy going shopping without having to worry about masks and to be able to live life without this shadow of fear. The vaccine is our gateway to being able to do all of that again – it offers our communities tremendous hope. And it is so close at hand.
Please stay safe, keep following the guidelines, and if there’s anything I can do to help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
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