THE three counties in the Hywel Dda Health Board (UHB) area - Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion - have seen coronavirus cases increase by 73 in a week.

The total number of cases across the three counties is now 15,829, as of March 29; 3,402 in Pembrokeshire and 1,749 in Ceredigion.

Pembrokeshire has seen 26 extra cases in the last week, compared to 38 extra the week before, and neighbouring Ceredigion four, compared to eight.

In the last week, there were two further deaths in Hywel Dda, up to 473.

Just 15 weeks since the first vaccine was given to Dr Nicola Drake from Withybush Hospital's A&E, 173,000 people in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire have now received their first dose of the vaccine, and 30,094 people are fully vaccinated, having received both doses.

As of March 24, there have been 80,495 first doses and 13,737 second doses administered in Carmarthenshire, 56,734 first doses and 9,045 second doses in Pembrokeshire and 31,225 first doses and 5,490 second doses in Ceredigion.

A health board spokesperson said: "The uptake of the vaccine remains high and we believe at least 80 per cent of each priority groups 1 to 9 will received their first vaccine dose by milestone 2 of the Welsh Government’s National Vaccination Strategy, an update of which can be viewed here

"We will have offered a first dose of the vaccine to all those in priority groups 5-9 by Sunday 18 April. This includes:

Everyone aged 50 to 69

Everyone aged over 16 with an underlying health condition, which puts them at increased clinical risk of serious illness with Covid-19 – including some people with learning disabilities and with severe mental illness and those experiencing homelessness

Many invaluable unpaid carers who provide care for someone who is clinically vulnerable to COVID-19

"Please be patient if you haven’t been contacted about your vaccine yet and we politely ask that you do not contact the health board or your GP to ask about your vaccine. You will be contacted when it is your turn.

"Everyone in groups 5 to 9 should expect to receive their vaccine appointment by Easter Monday, 5 April.

"To ensure no one is left behind, on Tuesday, April 6, the health board will launch an appeal asking people in groups 1 to 9 who have not been contacted to get in touch to arrange their first vaccine dose. This appeal will be shared on our social media channels, in local newspapers and on local radio stations."

When will you receive your second vaccine?

A statement from Hywel Dda said: "The second doses are essential for longer term protection, so it’s important that everyone comes forward for their full course when called.

"When you will be contacted for your second vaccine dose depends on which vaccine you have received.

"Care home, health and social care staff, people aged 75 to 79 and people who were shielding, received the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine at one of our mass vaccination centres and will be invited to receive their second dose before 12 April.

"Care home residents, people aged over 80 and all other priority groups who have received the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine at the GP surgery will be contacted between 11 to 12 weeks following their first vaccine with an appointment time.

"Please be assured that this is a safe and appropriate interval between both doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and early reports from Oxford University support a 12-week interval between doses for maximum vaccine efficacy.

"Confidence is building around the effectiveness of the vaccines. Emerging evidence is clear on the impact of the vaccine in preventing severe disease and hospitalisation. That is now playing out in admissions to our hospitals, and thankfully, numbers of deaths from Coronavirus being reported.

"UK and EU regulators have also been very clear in the last week about the safety of the vaccines. The benefits of vaccination outweigh any possible risks. The vaccines are both safe and effective."