6. Statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care: National Immunisation Framework for Wales

Part of the debate – in the Senedd at 5:00 pm on 21 May 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Mair Eluned Morgan Baroness Mair Eluned Morgan Labour 5:00, 21 May 2024

Thanks very much, and I think it's good to recognise—and thank you for recognising—the fact that, actually, this is probably the most cost-effective public health tool we have. This is what saves us money, so it's definitely an investment—not just here, obviously, but across the world. And it's good to see that that is increasing across the world, and even things like malaria now, there are examples of where that's moving on.

I think one of your questions was about the delivery unit and how that's working and, obviously, this is now sitting in the NHS Wales Executive. This is an area and a group that I have real confidence in. I think they are delivering really well, developing a real cross-nation approach, just making sure that they've got that focus, making sure that the kind of postcode lottery situation is not something that arises. So, having that overall structure within the NHS executive is actually really useful. I think this particular group—you know, they learnt their trade during the pandemic. These are people who've been tested, they know what they're doing, they're absolutely on top of it. There are other parts I'm not quite so confident in, but this is a group that I'm absolutely sure are doing very well. And, obviously, I'll be looking forward to publishing the governance and accountability group's report very soon.

In terms of working with the UK Government, one of the things we do is to work very closely and take recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, and where possible, because of some of the misinformation that's around, we try and do that on a four-nations basis, and I think that, I hope, will give more confidence to people to take up the opportunity. And, yes, we are confident that we have the ability to build up the capacity very quickly in future, if we have another kind of pandemic. So, we've tried to make sure that that capacity is in place.

I'm very worried about whooping cough, as you say, but it is also part of a cycle, so it does come around every, I think, four of five years. So, it does happen, but, obviously, that's more of a reason to get people, to make sure that they are covered and they're having their vaccinations. That target for MMR reaching 90 per cent by the end of July, Public Health Wales has said, by about December, it was up to 89 per cent. But the problem is we're worried about equity. So, what you might have is in some areas, it'll be up to 95 per cent, and in other areas it'll be a lot lower. So, equity for us is really, really key, and making sure that we do that outreach work into perhaps those schools that may have seen a lower uptake. So, it's not just about hitting the 90 per cent, it's about making sure there's a minimum of 90 per cent everywhere, if possible—that's got to be our goal, if we can. So, I hope that's given you some answers to those questions. Diolch.