The Vaccinator: It’s not just a jab for Diss Town Councillor
15 March 2021
The UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is the world's first mass immunisation campaign and the biggest of its kind ever undertaken by the NHS. It’s a huge operation. And a lifechanging one.
But, with NHS staff also tasked with keeping other vital services going, delivering on such as scale requires reinforcements. Which is why, from GP practices, care homes and pharmacies to hospitals, sports stadiums and community centres, volunteers are helping with the rollout of the vaccine at sites all around the country. Including here in Norfolk, where one of those volunteers is our very own Diss Town Councillor, Mark Gingell.
Here, Mark (aka MarkeeMark) explains what motivated him to join the NHS COVID-19 vaccine team and shares a bit about what it took to become qualified.
"I decided to train as a vaccinator when I heard that there was an urgent call for volunteers to help with the rollout the COVID-19 vaccination programme. I’ve always felt comfortable receiving injections and felt I had the skills, limited experience, knowledge and capacity to undertake the role. I also saw it as another opportunity to extend the work I do for Diss Town Council and support the residents, businesses and visitors of Diss.
"After an initial application to St John Ambulance, I was interviewed for the role, references were taken and DBS checks made. Once these were completed, I had to undertake St John Ambulance training modules and successfully pass each one. These covered: safeguarding, first aid, fire marshalling, moving and handling, anaphylaxis, data protection and confidentiality.
"The next stage was to study and pass a series of NHS training modules, which ranged from the legal aspects, vaccination storage and administration, to specific knowledge about each of the different vaccines.
"In total, the training and assessments amounted to around 29 hours. After successfully passing all of the assessments, the final stage involved attending an eight-hour assessment day at the UEA. Alongside thirteen other new recruits we took everything we’d learned in training and put it into practice. And, before you ask, yes - we did administer intramuscular injections with a hypodermic and syringe. But not into a real arm. We actually used a simulated arm pad attached to a real arm. The pad was extremely realistic and not an orange as a lot of you are thinking. It was an intense, but enjoyable day, culminating in a thirty-minute Vaccination Centre Simulation, where the recruits had to fulfil their duties in differing roles.
"That may sound fairly straight forward, but it wasn’t quite that simple. Extra complications were thrown into the mix at random time intervals. At one point, we thought it looked like the worst episode of ‘Casualty’, with recruits in all sorts of simulated distress and levels of consciousness. On one occasion, I had the experience of administering the vaccine and then having to deal with an anaphylactic reaction. But the training kicked in and you will be pleased to know the simulated vaccinated citizen survived.
"I’m now qualified and really looking forward to supporting the immunisation programme rollout, so as many people receive a vaccine as quickly as possible.
"If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, I’d definitely recommend it. You don’t have to actually administer the vaccine. There are three separate roles: Volunteer Vaccinator, Vaccination Care Volunteer and Volunteer Patient Advocate. So, if you feel that you want to contribute, but have a fear of needles, then there are two other roles that still require volunteers. All volunteers work equally as part of a valuable and powerful team and all are needed.
"To register your interest and find out more head over to the St John Ambulance website.
"And finally, my personal advice is to have your vaccination (when you are called) - you never know, it may be me administering it! Stay safe, follow the national guidelines and we’ll get through this. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and what I’m looking forward to is seeing what the landscape is like when we get there and how we all adapt to the changes."
Mark Gingell (MarkeeMark)
Member of Diss Town Council Executive, Infrastructure and Planning committees and Internal Controls Councillor (ICC).