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North Wales nurse becomes first in Wales to receive booster jab


A nurse who has first-hand experience of the devastating impact of COVID-19 has become the first in Wales and one of the first in the UK to receive a booster vaccine.

Following an announcement from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on Tuesday, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has moved quickly to offer additional protection to its patient-facing staff, with the first booster vaccine administered at 11:05am this morning.

The first booster jab in Wales was given to orthopaedic nurse Ewa Syczuk, at a clinic in St Asaph. The 50-year-old mum-of-two has been working on the frontline of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign since January 2021, and was inspired to get involved following her own experience with the virus.

She said: “I’m so pleased to get the booster jab because in April last year I had COVID. I was very very ill and was very fortunate. I thought I was going to die.

“There are two weeks I can’t remember – my partner said he had to remind me to breathe.

“A month after I got better from being ill, I could still only manage about 500 steps then I’d have to spend the rest of the day in bed.

“It took me six months to get back to work on a very slow phased return.

“The vaccine is like a godsend – I couldn’t wait to get mine. Everybody should have the vaccine to prevent that experience, because 19 months after having COVID I still can suffer from shortness of breath and fatigue.

“You don’t know if you will get ill – and you don’t know how ill you might become.

“It’s not just the virus, it’s the long-term effects of it too. The vaccines are fully approved by the authorities and by people who know what they are doing.

“It’s so nice to see people coming to get the vaccine – including the 16 and 17 year olds.

“The booster is so important for me – I’m terrified of the Delta variant and want the protection the booster gives.”

In accordance with JCVI guidance, booster vaccines are being offered to those most vulnerable to serious infection, ahead of the winter months. These include:

  • Those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • All adults aged 50 years or over
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • All those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (as set out in the Green Book), and adult carers
  • Adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

In line with JCVI guidance, the North Wales health board is inviting those eligible for a booster jab based on the same priority order as the first phase, provided at least six months have passed since their second dose.

Gill Harris, Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery at BCUHB, said: “We’ve been planning for the booster programme for some time and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to move so quickly to offer this additional protection to our hard working frontline staff, who are continuing to face the daily risk of working with COVID-19 positive patients in our hospitals and in community settings.

“In accordance with JCVI guidance, we’re inviting frontline health and social care staff for their booster vaccine first. We ask others who are eligible to please be patient and remember that there is no need to contact us to book an appointment. We will contact you directly when it is your turn.”

As most younger adults will only receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose in late summer, the benefits of booster vaccination in this group will be considered at a later time, by the JCVI, when more information is available.

Find out further information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme.