Most care home residents in Swansea Bay have had their first vaccine dose

The majority of care home residents in Swansea Bay have had their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, the leader of Swansea Council has said.

Cllr Rob Stewart said 1,600-plus residents out of a care home population of around 2,000 had received the jab.

He said there were some 250 care home residents who’d need to wait because they either had Covid-19 or were in the early stages of recovery.

Cllr Stewart said a total of more than 21,000 people in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot had received their first vaccine dose, as of the morning of January 19.

Speaking at a council scrutiny meeting, he also said the third of three mass vaccination centres in Swansea Bay would be open “very shortly”.

Cllr Rob Stewart said the Canolfan Gorseinon centre would deliver 300-plus jabs a day.

Larger vaccination centres which are in operation at the Bay Field Hospital and Margam Orangery, he said, could deliver in excess of 1,500 and 600 injections per day respectively.

Cllr Stewart also said some members of the public aged over 70 were starting to receive letters inviting them to come in for the first vaccine dose.

By January 21, he said, all of Swansea Bay’s 49 GP surgeries would be administering the vaccine.

The Swansea Labour leader said the authorities were hopeful of giving the first dose to the top four priority population groups by February 15 or thereabouts.

“Obviously that will depend on vaccine supplies, and the resources in place,” he said.

He stressed that doses were not being stockpiled or held back.

Leader of Swansea Conservatives, Cllr Lyndon Jones, said he was pleased to see the vaccine rollout progressing.

But, he added, to say there had been a “few hiccups” thus far in Wales would be an “understatement”.

Cllr Jones said Wales’ vaccination strategy had not been mentioned in the minutes of the last six Welsh Government meetings he had seen.

“We are playing catch-up,” he said. “We just need to get the vaccine out to get back to any degree of normality.”

Cllr Stewart said the vaccine rollout in England was not as fast as some media reports suggested, based on conversations he said he’d had with council representatives across the border.

“When you get down to the reality it’s not an even picture across England,” he said.

“The difference (in the rollout) is a matter of hours sometimes between England and Wales.

“It should not be a competition – it should be a national effort by all of us.”

Cllr Jones replied: “I would agree with that but we must remember that it’s about getting the vaccine out there – lives are at stake.”

Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Chris Holley, said: “We all condemn the politicisation of what’s happened, and yet we have had an exercise in that just now.”

Cllr Holley asked if council buildings could be handed over to speed up the vaccine rollout.

Cllr Stewart replied that offers of buildings had been made to and were being assessed by Swansea Bay University Health Board.

Cllr Will Thomas asked if drive-through vaccination centres were being considered to potentially accelerate the rollout.

Cllr Stewart said he thought this had been originally considered but that there were protocols around the process, including that vaccine recipients should be observed for a short period afterwards.

He added that the vaccine rollout was significant in the three vaccination centres.

“I don’t think that could be increased by being drive-through,” he said.

WalesOnline – Swansea