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COVID-19 spring booster vaccine programme begins in Hywel Dda UHB

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APPOINTMENTS for the COVID-19 spring booster vaccine have started for those who are eligible at Hywel Dda University Health Board’s mass vaccination centres and at most GP practices across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

COVID-19 is more serious in older people and those with a weakened immune system. For this reason, people aged 75 years and over, those in care homes and those aged 12 years and over with a weakened immune system (as defined in table 3 and 4 of the Green Book’s chapter 14a) are being offered a spring booster.

The spring booster will be offered up until the end of June and is advised to be given around six months (and not before three months) after the last dose of vaccine was received to get the best protection.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The health board and participating GP practices are in the process of contacting people eligible for a spring booster of the COVID-19 vaccine. Appointments are being scheduled in line with the latest JCVI advice and in accordance with age and clinical vulnerability.

“People will be invited to attend either a mass vaccination centre or their GP practice. If your practice is participating in the vaccine rollout, they will contact you when it is your turn, so we kindly ask people to not contact their GP about the COVID-19 vaccination.

“Mass vaccination centres across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire continue to accommodate drop-ins for everyone aged 12 and over to allow easy and flexible access to the vaccine due to increased cases of COVID in our community. Should someone eligible for a spring booster attend as a drop-in without an appointment, they won’t be turned away.”

If you have been given an appointment at a GP for your spring booster please keep to this to help minimise vaccine waste.

Bethan added: “Vaccination clinics for children aged 5 to 11 will continue while the spring booster is being rolled out. It is strictly by appointment only for this age group so please book an appointment by calling 0300 303 8322 before travelling to a vaccination centre.”

For more information about the spring booster programme in Hywel Dda UHB, including drop-in opening times, please visit hduhb.nhs.wales/covid19-vaccination or call 0300 303 8322 or complete this form https://forms.office.com/r/9kg96t6Chs 

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Health

No monkeypox cases identified in Wales say public health officials

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THE UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected 11 additional cases of monkeypox in England.

The latest cases bring the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed since May 6 to 20.

The new cases come on top of the nine already identified in the country.

There are currently no cases of monkeypox identified in Wales, public health in Wales have said.

Public Health Wales said it is working with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Public Health Scotland, and Northern Ireland HSC Health Protection Agency to respond to UK cases of monkeypox.

Richard Firth, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “We are working closely with our UK partners to monitor and respond to cases of monkeypox in the UK. Monkeypox is a rare disease that has been reported mainly in central and West African countries. No cases have so far been identified in Wales.”

“Monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low. It is usually a mild self-limiting illness, and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.”

The first case in the current outbreak was confirmed on May 6.

It is not the first time monkeypox has been reported in the UK.

Three cases were also reported in 2021, two of them in Wales.

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Health

Huge increase in demand for rehabilitation services in Wales in past six months.

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A SURVEY by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) has found that 68% of its members in Wales reported an increase in demand for occupational therapy services and that 75% of its members in Wales feel as though they are unable to provide the necessary support to patients. The findings raise questions about the prospects of providing timely rehabilitation support, which is vital to people’s recovery from short term illnesses and the long-term management of health issues.

As the country begins to ‘live with COVID’, already overstretched, rehabilitation services have seen demand rocket over the past two years due to the COVID pandemic and are now seeing a further rapid increase in patients. The findings raise questions about the prospects of providing timely rehabilitation, for people recovering from short- and long-term illnesses, and need urgent support to live independently carry out their daily lives.

The survey, which over 550 occupational therapists working across the UK took part in, found that:

84% are supporting people whose needs have become more complex due to delayed interventions arising from the pandemic
82% of respondents noted increased demand for occupational therapy-led rehabilitation over the previous six months.
71% of respondents felt there were not enough OTs to meet demand.
66% of respondents reported difficulties in delivering rehabilitation services due to reduced access to facilities, suitable space and equipment.
50% are supporting people affected by Long Covid.

Commenting on the survey, RCOT Director of Practice and Innovation, Karin Orman said:

“It’s clear from this survey that rehabilitation services across Wales and the rest of UK are overloaded, with the vast majority of occupational therapists seeing a huge increase in demand and complexity of their caseload over the last six months alone. This simply isn’t sustainable and there isn’t a big enough workforce to currently meet demand.

“Across the UK, health and social care leaders need to invest more in rehabilitation services and drive the recruitment of more occupational therapists as a matter of urgency. Not in a few years but now. As leaders of rehabilitation services, occupational therapists are a vital part of the solution to getting through the backlog of people needing intervention. The maths is simple – the quicker people have access to rehabilitation services, the better their chances at getting back to doing the things they need and love to do.”

Russell George MS, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee of the Senedd said:

“The Health and Social Care Committee has recently undertaken a detailed inquiry into the impact of waiting times on people in Wales. We firmly believe that effective rehabilitation and reablement are vital to ensure that people can stay healthy after they have received their treatment.

“A key recommendation of the committee to the Welsh Government is that the Minister for Health and Social Services should set out what action is being taken to ensure that health boards are providing suitable venues for the delivery of services such as rehabilitation and occupational therapy both in hospitals, on the primary care estate, and in the community.

“We look forward to receiving the response of the Welsh Government.”

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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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