image captionCraig preparing to get his vaccine
The first shot of vaccine in Wales to protect against Covid has been given to a man in Cwmbran.
Vaccinations are being rolled out from Tuesday morning at seven sites across Wales as part of the UK-wide immunisation programme.
Craig Atkins, 48, from Ebbw Vale, became the first person to get the jab.
Mr Atkins, 48, from Ebbw Vale, said: “It was scary”, adding he was shaking but now feels that he can smile.
image captionMargaret Keenan received the first shot of the new vaccine in the UK
Final preparations for the first vaccines in Wales were being carried out at a mass vaccination centre in Cwmbran, among other locations around Wales.
BBC reporter Stephen Fairclough, speaking from the scene earlier on Tuesday, said there had been a lot of activity there as staff arrived to get ready to administer the vaccines.
“It’s one of seven incredibly important locations across Wales where the vaccines will be administered,” he said.
“The car park is all marked out. It is very organised here inside the buildings. There are lots of different areas where socially distanced people are going to be able to come.
image captionPreparations are taking place for vaccinations at a centre in Cwmbran
“They will have their details checked as they arrive. They will have the vaccine and then go into an area after they have had it just to make sure everything is ok for them, almost like you do after giving blood.”
He said it was important that other people did not come to the centres as those who were being vaccinated were the most vulnerable.
Wendy Warren, head of emergency planning at the Cwmbran site said: “We’re immensely proud. Everyone has put so much work into this.
“The thing for us is that our hospital is a really busy site… so working with our local authorities means we can bring the vaccine to people into a community area, to people, which is better for them.
image captionEmergency planner Wendy Warren will also administer vaccines to people
“We ran drills, staff pretending to be patients which is an opportunity to test things out. It’s on a scale we’ve never done before.”
Ms Warren, who will also be administering vaccines to people, added: “I don’t want to be in the same position next year where children are walking round in masks, where we can’t see relatives in care homes or go about our lives – this is why it’s important I have it.”
Karen O’Shea, manager at Springbank Nursing Home in Barry, will be having the vaccine at a different centre and said this was “the beginning of the new future” for her and her staff due to have it in the coming days.
Ms O’Shea said her sleepless nights had been “horrendous” because of her worry as to how difficult it is to contain Covid in nursing homes.
“I can really start to breathe and think this is our way out of it now because not so long ago I didn’t know when this is going to end,” she told BBC Wales.
“I know generally there has been lots of talk on social media where people are reluctant to have it but as a manager of a nursing home where there is extremely vulnerable elderly people, I am personally pleased that I am having it as I am protecting my family as well.
“Lockdown has stalled things and we are on this cycle again. Unless we break this cycle with the vaccine, we’ve got no way out.”
‘A pivotal moment’
People’s freedoms in Wales, as around the world, have been restricted more during the coronavirus pandemic than at any other time of peace.
The country has endured two lockdowns and nine months of restrictions while more than 3,000 people in Wales have died with the virus since March.
So the arrival of boxes of 975 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination doses at Wales’ seven health boards on Monday “feels like a turning point”, according to Ms Ben-Sassi as she welcomed the vaccine to Wrexham’s Maelor Hospital.
“It is a pivotal moment in the fight against the pandemic,” added the lead antimicrobial pharmacist at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
“It is important to remember that we are at the very beginning of a vaccination programme with a very new vaccine, so we are cautiously optimistic but the coming weeks will tell the success of the rollout.”
The first minister is “proud” that Wales is among the first countries to begin their Covid vaccination programme.
“This vaccine is a small glimmer of light at the end of what has been a long and dark tunnel,” said Mark Drakeford.
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart MP said: “The vaccine roll-out is fantastic news and is what we have all been waiting for. The UK government purchased this vaccine on behalf of the whole of the United Kingdom and the focus now is distributing it as quickly as possible.”
How will the rollout begin?
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab. That is enough to vaccinate 20 million people with the two required doses.
image captionThe vaccine is made in Belgium and has to be stored at around -70C
Initially, Wales will have 40,000 doses of the vaccine – enough for nearly 20,000 people – in the first tranche of 800,000 doses.
It is expected more than 6,000 doses of the jab will be administered from special centres across Wales in the first phase by the end of this week – as Wales aims to eventually inoculate 1.4m people by the end of the vaccination programme.
People will be contacted by their health boards when it is their turn for an appointment.
“I am feeling hopeful, for the first time in a long time,” added University Hospital of Wales intensive care consultant Dr Matt Morgan who will have his jab on Tuesday.
image captionThe vaccine arriving at Wrexham Maelor Hospital in brown cardboard boxes on Monday afternoon
Who will get the vaccine first in Wales?
Front-line NHS staff, care home workers and over-80s will be the first to get the vaccination at hubs across Wales’ seven health boards.
Residents of care homes are on the priority list but Wales’ health minister said they will have to wait due to concerns surrounding the transporting of the vaccines at extremely low temperatures.
Vaughan Gething said conversations had taken place with Pfizer and the regulator “to understand how we can safely and lawfully deliver this vaccine to care homes”.
The Welsh Conservatives said the delay for care homes was a “bitter blow” and called for Wales to appoint a vaccines minister, as in England, to ensure the process runs smoothly.
How safe is the vaccine?
The UK is the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine as Britain’s medicines regulator says the jab, which offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19 illness, is safe to be rolled out.
It is the fastest vaccine to go from concept to reality, taking only 10 months to follow the same steps that normally span 10 years.
It is among a handful of vaccinations that the UK has bought doses of – and the others could be administered if they are also approved by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been trialled on more than 40,000 people, with only mild side-effects reported.
image captionTwo full doses of the Oxford vaccine gave 62% protection, a half dose followed by a full dose was 90% and overall the trial showed 70% protection.
Dr Matt Morgan, an intensive care consultant at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, said the biggest risk in getting the vaccine was driving to the test centre to have it done, while the benefits of the injections were “huge”.
How does Wales’ Covid-19 infection rates look?
The vaccine rollout comes as coronavirus-related patients in Welsh hospitals are “the highest number ever recorded”.
Wales’ health minister said there are 1,800 inpatients – making up 23% of those in hospital, compared to about 18% at the end of May.
On 1 December, Wales had a seven-day case rate of 267.8 per 100,000 people – the highest of the UK’s four nations, according to UK government statistics.
Covid infection rates in three areas of Wales are now above 1,000 cases per 100,000 people – with Caerau, in Bridgend, top with 1,327.90 per 100,000, ahead of Aberdulais & Resolfen in Neath Port Talbot and Ferndale & Maerdy in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Will I get an ID card after my jab?
Once vaccinated, people will be issued with an NHS immunisation card with details of the vaccine name, date and batch numbers of each dose.
It will also act as a reminder for a second appointment, as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine requires two doses, but the cards will not hold any personal information.
However the Welsh Government said it has no plans to produce vaccine passports or ID cards.
image captionPeople will be given these cards once vaccinated in the Croydon University Hospital