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Welsh Blood Service recognised in first national vaccination awards

At the inaugural Vaccination Saves Lives (VSL) awards hosted by Public Health Wales at their 20th Welsh Immunisation Conference, the Welsh Blood Service has been awarded the Vaccination Saves Lives Team Award for its work supporting the national Covid-19 vaccination programme.

 The Welsh Blood Service (WBS) was awarded the VSL team award recognising the outstanding efforts of a multidisciplinary team of staff from across the organisation who rapidly developed and implemented an efficient system for the national distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

The team enabled Wales to be the first country in the UK to begin distribution and one of the fastest countries in the world to vaccinate our communities.

 

The team used their regulatory expertise in the distribution of blood products to provide centralised ultra-low temperature storage for the COVID-19 vaccine and established the national supply chain within 12 weeks. WBS provided storage facilities for the different types of COVID-19 vaccines (including paediatric) as they became available and enabled their swift availability in line with the national vaccination strategy.

Specifically, the Service extended its ‘WBS Wholesale dealers Authorisation’, collaborated with the Welsh Government Pharmacists group, expanded and validated  -80oC and -40oC freezer capacity, amended the Blood Establishment Computer System and developed new Standard Operating Procedures for safe handling of the vaccines.

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Utilising our facilities in North and South Wales we created a resilient system across the country, promoting health equality for the vaccine programme. The North Wales facility also allowed us to reduce the vaccine’s carbon emissions and environmental impact through reduction of transport miles for delivery to the North Wales destinations.

Speaking of this award Alan Prosser, Welsh Blood Service Director, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to receive this award and our efforts during the pandemic being recognised in this way.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the Service and colleagues from across the organisation who have continued to go the extra mile every single day.

“Since December 2020, we distributed 5,328,445 doses of four different vaccines to Health Boards, GPs and Community Pharmacies to support the pandemic and we are immensely proud that this achievement has been recognised at these inaugural Vaccination Saves Lives Awards”.

This project demonstrates WBS’s system leadership and vital role in population healthcare; in this instance supporting increased population immunity and reduced hospital admissions through collaborative working across multiple organisations.

Alan Prosser - Welsh Blood Service Director

The conference, which attracts leading national and international speakers from the field of immunisation and vaccination, returned this year following a four-year break during the pandemic and is hosted by the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme (VPDP) at Public Health Wales.

Taking place during European Immunisation Week, the conference is for health professionals and aims to highlight key research and developments in vaccination and celebrate nationally the successes of teams and individuals who work on any aspect of immunisation in Wales.

European Immunisation Week is led by the World Health Organization European Region and this year it will focus on ways to improve vaccine uptake in the context of a global reduction in vaccination rates due to the pandemic.

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The inaugural VSL Awards are an opportunity to recognise, reward and celebrate some of the hard work and dedication that has gone into immunisation programme(s) in Wales.

Dr Chris Johnson, Consultant Epidemiologist and Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme, Public Health Wales, said: “We were really impressed by the volume and quality of the submissions for our first ever Vaccination Saves Lives awards.

Over the past few years, so many teams and individuals in Wales have worked hard to promote vaccination in the most challenging circumstances. We applaud the commitment, leadership and resilience shown by all of our VSL award winners and thank them for their incredible work.

Chris Johnson - Consultant Epidemiologist

The VSL Team award was awarded to WBS in recognition of its demonstrable commitment and dedication to improving vaccination uptake, making a significant impact/improvement to the national vaccination campaign and demonstrating innovation in promoting/ delivering /supporting one or more elements of immunisation.