PEOPLE in Wales will be "brought to the vaccine" in the first week of immunisation, the co-chair of the COVID-19 vaccine programme board has said.

Dr Gillian Richardson spoke at a Welsh Government press conference after it was announced earlier today that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been marked safe for use and will be rolled out across Wales – and the rest of the UK – from next week.

She said: "We will be prioritising those that we can safely deliver an effective vaccine to. At the very beginning, in the first week of immunisation, we'll be bringing people to the vaccine and that will include care home staff.

"Then as we learn more about the vaccine - and we are all learning at a UK level - it's very much hoped that a mobile model can be developed so that we can safely deploy to care homes without putting care home residents at risk of bringing them to a centre unnecessarily."

She also explained how it was safe despite the fact a vaccine normally takes 10 years to develop but this has been done in just 10 months.

She said: “The reason vaccines normally take so long hinges on funding, volunteers for the various phases of trials that need to happen before approval and scientists.

“For this vaccine, there was overwhelming goodwill to share and learn from each other. Funding and volunteers have not been a problem. I want to say a huge thank you to all in Wales who have been involved.

“The rest of the process is straight forward from there. Stringent safety tests are done. This vaccine has had no less stringent safety tests done.”

The country's chief medical officer, who also joined Dr Richardson at the briefing, has said there is “really good evidence” that immunisation jab is safe and effective.

Dr Frank Atherton added that other vaccines are in the pipeline – including the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which could be made at Wockhardt’s facility on Wrexham Industrial Estate.

The chief medical officer said: "There are, of course, other vaccines in the pipeline, the Oxford vaccine for example, which doesn't have such stringent requirements around temperatures management and control.

"As that comes online, as we hope, that will give us further ability to work our way through those priority lists.

"I can't give you an exact date or a timeframe but we are working through that process as quickly as we can because those elderly residents are one of our highest priorities."

Dr Atherton said that Welsh Government is "currently exploring ways" to get the Pfizer vaccine to care home residents but looking how to get through "particular challenges" around the vaccine as it requires storage below -70C.

He said there was a clear list of priorities and all four nations "are intending to follow that list and work down it".

"However, that has to take into account operational concerns. I think it would be scandalous to waste the vaccine and not to use it wisely," Dr Atherton said.

"We are currently exploring ways in which we could try to get vaccines to those residents of care homes - certainly the healthcare staff and social care staff will be a very high priority - and we're looking for ways to work around that.

“But it is technically quite difficult to achieve that given that we have numerous care homes around the country and the model for delivering this particular vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine, requires a small number of vaccination sites."