WALES is on course to this weekend become the first of the UK nations to have offered a first dose of coronavirus vaccine to all over-50s and adults with long term health conditions.

Everyone in the top nine priority groups should by Sunday have been offered a first dose, 11 days earlier than originally targeted.

The aim has been to offer first doses to everyone in these groups, across the UK, by mid-April, and this remains the target elsewhere.

First Minister Mark Drakeford called the reaching of this milestone in Wales well ahead of the target date "is a truly remarkable effort".

"It is down to the hard work of thousands of people who are working tirelessly on the NHS front line across Wales to make this happen. I want to thank each and every one of them," he said.

"It is because of those efforts that I am able to say today that we will meet our next vaccine milestone early."

Mr Drakeford also revealed that by Sunday, at least 75 per cent of people in each priority group will have received their first vaccination.

"The numbers are powering ahead very significantly in Wales, " he said.

"We hope to have offered vaccines to all adults in Wales by the end of July."


Asked if more needs to be done to persuade those holding back from taking the vaccine that it is safe and effective, Mr Drakeford added: "There is always more to be done but the [uptake] figures are remarkable.

"I think the bulk of the population understand the vaccine offers them hope for the future.

"There is work to be done so that those who may otherwise be left behind feel confident to come forward."

The announcement on reaching the latest vaccine milestone comes in the wake of concern about a forthcoming slowdown in vaccine supplies, with Wales set to receive around 150,000 fewer doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine than expected in the coming weeks.

Asked if vaccine passports are being considered in Wales, as a means of enabling people gain netry to venues and events, Mr Drakeford said: "I discussed this [on Wednesday evening] with Michael Gove and ministers from the devolved administrations," he said.

"We continue to work together on this.

"There are many practical and ethical issues which must be addressed successfully, for the positives to be won.

"We do have independent powers on this matter.

"The fact we are discussing it regularly together improves the opportunity to reach common solutions."

Wales Chief Medical Officer Dr Frank Atherton said that, in terms of the science, "we are in somewhat uncharted waters" with vaccine passports.

"It could raise the prospects of some people unable to be vaccinated being excluded from some aspects of life," he said.

Dr Atherton also urged caution over the easing of lockdown and the need for people to keep observing the rules as they stand regarding social distancing and hygiene, even with more and more people being vaccinated.

"I don't want to be in the position of advising the First Minister that we need restrictions due to rising cases," he said.