A CARE boss has warned of catastrophic consequences if care home residents are not given "absolute priority" in the rollout of the newly approved coronavirus vaccine.

Mario Kreft, the chairman of Care Forum Wales, spoke out because of concerns that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine might be too late in reaching uniquely vulnerable residents at a time when care homes across Wales were at crisis point and the spread of the virus was rampant.

The Oxford vaccine is the second to be given approval by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) whose head, Dr June Raine, said it would save tens of thousands of lives, adding "no corners have been cut" in assessing the safety and effectiveness of the jab.

Mr Kreft said: “It’s clearly fantastic news that the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has been approved, but it’s vitally important that it is rolled out very quickly because were are now in a desperate race against time, especially since this new super-strain of Covid-19 is so highly infectious and out of control, with community transmission rampant.

“Every care home manager will have everything crossed that the vaccine reaches their residents before the virus. There is great trepidation in the social care sector that it might not come soon enough.


“Residents in all care homes should be given absolute priority – along with the staff who provide care for them. Because of their age and infirmity, our vulnerable residents are uniquely at risk from this deadly virus.

“All residents and staff in care homes need to be vaccinated immediately – even in homes where they have had cases. Wherever they can be vaccinated safely they should be.

“If we fail to urgently protect care home residents we will be faced with catastrophic consequences. This really is a matter of life or death.

“The situation could not be more urgent because this new mutant strain of the virus is even more dangerous because of its frightening ability to spread so quickly."

First minister Mark Drakeford tweeted: "Very pleased that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been given the go-ahead.

"Over 25,000 vaccines have already been administered in Wales and this second vaccine will start to be rolled out here in the New Year."