GWENT'S health board and other NHS bodies in Wales are at an advanced stage of planning for the arrival of a coronavirus vaccine, subject to it meeting safety standards and being approved by medicines regulators.

Wales-wide simulation testing to ensure a vaccine can be distributed safely and that storage arrangements are effective, are among the preparations, supported by military planning experts.

When a vaccine does arrive however, supplies will at first be limited and a priority system will operate, with those at highest risk first in line.

Priority will be based on advice from the UK's joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI).


All health boards, with key partners such as councils, have set up groups to develop and roll out plans to deliver a coronavirus vaccine, and these have been reviewed and assessed, said Mr Gething, to ensure each health board "has appropriate facilities and equipment to receive, store, prepare and administer vaccines in a safe and controlled manner, and plans for rapid deployment through a variety of means (mass immunisation, mobile, occupational and wider primary care)".

The UK Government has bought 350 million doses of vaccines currently in development, through agreements with developers, though none has yet received the necessary regulatory approval.

Wales will receive its population share and "once we know whether the vaccine meets robust safety standards, only then can the medicines regulator consider whether it can be made available to the public", said Mr Gething.

Included is the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, of which initial encouraging analysis of results was released last week. Forty million doses have been secured for the UK.

However, Mr Gething said it would come with "significant challenges" in terms of storage and distribution, given its need for storage at very low temperatures.

"As more information becomes available, health board plans are being adapted to ensure they are sufficiently robust for NHS Wales to respond to those challenges," he added.

"I am grateful for all the hard work that has been done in the service to date to get Wales ready to deploy a much needed vaccine.

"I am pleased to report that all NHS organisations in Wales have embraced the challenge presented to them and are at advanced stage of planning for the arrival of a vaccine.

"This includes undertaking Wales-wide simulation exercises to test our distribution and storage arrangements and to ensure we can get vaccine safely to every part of Wales.

"Military planning expertise is assisting to support advanced logistical and operational delivery through a balanced programme portfolio, including live testing exercises.

"Once regulatory approval is received our health and social care staff in Wales stand ready to begin a vaccination programme for the people of Wales."