Education Lead Councillor ‘frustrated’ by Health Minister vaccination supply explanation
A council education Lead Member is “frustrated” that Wales’ health minister said he couldn’t give details about vaccine roll-out because of a lack of supply, after it emerged Welsh Government had “hundreds of thousands” of doses.
Cllr Julie Fallon, Conwy county council’s cabinet member for education, said she and colleagues from other Welsh councils had been in a virtual meeting with Welsh Government on Wednesday last week when Vaughan Gething made the claim.
Speaking in the authority’s cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Cllr Fallon said it was “frustrating” to later find out there were “hundreds of thousands of vaccines waiting there without plans about where they should go”.
Council leader Cllr Sam Rowlands also said he was “disappointed” that the number of vaccine doses available was not revealed during three meetings with Welsh Government ministers last week.
Plans for the roll-out of the vaccine were stepped up on Monday after the First Minister revealed in a weekend interview that Wales actually had stocks of vaccines in the “low hundreds of thousands”.
Welsh Government later confirmed it had received more than 250,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 22,000 of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.
Cllr Fallon said: “Vaughan Gething came in at the end and spoke about vaccinations.”
“He really made it clear the reason they couldn’t share with us what was going to happen was because they didn’t have supply of the vaccine.
“(He said) that was the issue that was creating a hold up, so it’s frustrating to hear there were hundreds of thousands of vaccines waiting there without plans about where they should go.”
Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Denbighshire council’s lead member for education, was also at the meeting.
He confirmed Mr Gething had mentioned that vaccine supply was the reason firm roll-out plans couldn’t be shared with members.
Cllr Fallon also revealed she was concerned about care homes not getting the vaccine.
She said: “There are care homes which haven’t received an indication yet as to when the vaccinations are going to be rolled out to them.”
She added the longer they were left the more likely they were to become red (infected) homes, meaning vaccinations couldn’t take place there.
Cllr Fallon spoke in response to an urgent item brought up by Cllr Rowlands.
He said there had been “concerns about the pace of delivery” of the vaccine in North Wales and particularly in Conwy, a county which has the highest concentration of over-65s in Wales.
He added: “I was disappointed over the weekend to see the volume of vaccinations available not being used in a way we would like to see.
“I had three meetings with ministers last week in which vaccinations were discussed in various forms.
“Not once was it raised they have a significant amount of vaccines available and are perhaps struggling to get those administered. That was disappointing to say the least.”
Cllr Rowlands praised Betsi Cadwaladr UHB for its communication with the council during the vaccine roll-out.
Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething has been approached for comment.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Our vaccination strategy sets ambitious milestones to offer all eligible adults vaccination by the autumn.
“But it is also clear the success of the strategy relies on having regular and reliable supplies of vaccines available to protect people in Wales.”
By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter
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