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Wales first in UK to reach mid-February vaccine target

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Wales is set to become the first nation in the UK to offer a Covid vaccination to everyone in the first four priority groups, according to the Welsh Government.

It said the remaining invitations for these cohorts will be arranged by the weekend – meeting the mid-February target, with first minister Mark Drakeford calling this ‘a truly phenomenal effort’.

The latest figures show 684,000 people (92%) have received their first dose of the vaccine in Wales out of the 740,000 making up those four cohorts. 

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Drakeford said he expects this figure to ‘go well past the 700,000 barrier today’ (12 February), adding that he was ‘confident’ the programme remained on track – with plans to reach the next five priority groups by spring.

NHS England has not published comparable numbers of outstanding vaccinations in the priority cohorts. However, an NHS England spokesperson told Pulse that nearly nine in 10 over 70s have taken up the vaccine so far.

The Welsh Government announced last week that it had reached the previous target to offer the vaccine to all elderly in care homes by the end of January. 

So far, the first dose of the Covid vaccine has been delivered to 14,000 care home residents, 34,000 care home staff, 160,000 over-80s, 117,000 healthcare workers and 249,000 70-79-year-olds, Welsh Government figures show. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: ‘Vaccination is the number one priority for the Welsh Government and for the NHS in Wales. To have achieved this first milestone and offered vaccination to everyone in the first four priority groups – those who are most vulnerable to coronavirus – is a truly phenomenal effort. 

‘I want to thank everyone who has been working around the clock to reach this point. Of course, the hard work has only just begun – there are many, many more people to vaccinate yet and a lot of second doses still to give.’

Health minister Vaughan Gething said: ‘Every vaccine given to someone in Wales is a small victory against the virus and we are already looking ahead to meeting our next milestone.’