2nd March 2021
A voices blog by Sally Shillaker, Paediatric Research Nurse at Solent NHS Trust and Professional Development Officer – Good Practice Points and Parent Tips at iHV, sharing her experiences of the COVID-19 vaccination programme at her local vaccination hub.
“When I’m an old lady I will be able to tell my grandchildren…I did my bit.”
During most of the shifts I have worked at my local vaccination hub, I have met health visiting colleagues also offering to cover the odd shift at the weekend. It has been a real bonus to catch up with some, meet others for the first time and join in with this tremendous national effort.
We thought our experiences were worth sharing and we suspect, given the numbers of health visitors we have met locally, the same response by health visitors is probably happening in many other hubs nationally.
One of the amazing aspects of joining this programme has been to witness the response from members of the public who support the initiative as volunteers. Their actions mean that patients are guided from arrival to departure, from where to park or queue, being a friendly person to chat to as they wait, and keeping the flow of patients through the hub going. They are incredible and invaluable. Another aspect has been the opportunity to work alongside health colleagues from diverse fields to provide a seamless vaccination service. Somehow, joining a new team, delivering part of the solution to COVID-19 together, has been inspiring and encouraging.
Joining the scheme was fairly straightforward. Prior to working at a vaccination hub, there are a number of compulsory online modules provided on the e-Learning for Healthcare portal (eLfH) to complete. In addition, there is a requirement to be up-to-date in resuscitation training. Staff coordinating the local vaccination hub signposted us to all the necessary training. Once training is completed, each practitioner has a competency document to complete when they start working at the vaccination hub. This is a thorough document and ensures that everyone is competent in their role. Each practitioner is required to be supported, observed, and assessed before deemed competent.
The vaccination hub has 2 elements; the first is the assessment element of each patient attending, to ensure they are suitable and consenting to be vaccinated. The second element is vaccination itself. At our vaccination hub, staff are allocated to one element at the start of each shift and patients pass from the first element to the second, and then return home.
Some of the health visitors I have shared shifts with added their own views about the COVID-19 vaccination programme:
“I think from a health perspective, HV lose their clinical identity and I think this is a good way to recognise that we can actually contribute to the clinical effort and support our more frontline colleagues with this fantastic national effort.
Also, participating in this vaccination programme means that I can inform my clients and actually reassure them that there is nothing to fear from having the vaccination, and dispel some of the conspiracy theories going around, which some people have been expressing anxiety about. HV in line with their role, can use this opportunity to disseminate evidence-based information which we do in our daily roles anyway.”
“I think It’s great 😊
I have really enjoyed being part of the vaccinating programme and how thankful people have been, has been really touching. I have seen a variety of people some who jog up to have their vaccines others that require support as they are scared but all thankful. It made me realise how important this work is. Some people have not been out since March ’20 and this is massive for them. When I’m an old lady I will be able to tell my grandchildren…I did my bit. “
“ I have loved helping and have found it a positive and humbling activity to commit to. It ties in with what we know to be important in public health, namely the importance of immunisation and has been a privilege to support older members of our society (currently) receive their vaccination.”
“I have had such a positive experience whilst working in the vaccination hub, as a Health Visitor with many years’ experience, prevention and health promotion is a key part of my role and to be able to actively support the COVID vaccination programme has felt like a privilege. From the positive team spirit, meeting new colleagues, refreshing clinical skills that have been dormant for quite a few years, and meeting the amazing volunteers who help keep the process running, it has all been fantastic! The most rewarding part has been meeting members of the public, all thankful, many relieved and wide ranging, from the 85 year old who was bought in by a family member to the 20 year old with a long term health condition who had her best outfit on as she hadn’t been out in a year!– an experience I will never forget.”
For more information, including how to get involved and information about vaccination sites, visit https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccination-programme/
Sally Shillaker, Paediatric Research Nurse at Solent NHS Trust and Professional Development Officer – Good Practice Points and Parent Tips at iHV