Vaccine Care Volunteer - James' Story
James is involved in making sure people don’t have any adverse reactions and caring for anyone that could become unwell.
Monday 25 January
When I heard that the government needed volunteers to assist with the nation’s Covid vaccination effort I knew I had to put myself forward. I had seen the disastrous effects this pandemic was having on people and their families and to help us get back to some normality, I couldn’t say no.
I have been with St John Ambulance for almost four years, starting as a cadet – a youth volunteer – and progressing on to become an adult volunteer last year. I am usually found at large events administering first aid to members of the public.
My new role is a vaccination care volunteer – which means I am involved in post-vaccination care, making sure people don’t have any adverse reactions and caring for anyone that could become unwell. Almost everybody comes out absolutely fine with a small number of people experiencing mild symptoms, which happens with any vaccine.
I’m going to be starting my role locally in the next few weeks, I am excited to see what it brings and looking forward to the experience.
We recapped on life-saving skills such as resuscitation, auto-injectors like EpiPens and the recovery position – thankfully St John Ambulance volunteers are already well versed in this and other skills the vaccination role demands. Even pre-pandemic when we were attending regular events and training courses and are used to dealing with the public. We’re in the ideal position to deliver this vaccination programme.
To become trained in vaccination care I have completed both online learning and in-person training. The online learning consisted of courses created by St John Ambulance and the NHS and the face-to-face training I was involved in talked us through our roles and responsibilities, how the vaccination centres will work and the process that everyone will go through: how we can best communicate and other key skills such as the donning and doffing of our PPE.
I also received training in 2020 from CVQO, a charity who provide qualifications to members of youth groups around the UK. During one of their BTEC programmes, I developed skills in community awareness, social action and leadership which helped me prepare for this role.
Between now and spring 2021, St John has plans to train around 30,000 volunteers to deliver the Covid vaccine. All volunteers for the vaccination roll-out have to meet specific selection criteria, in addition to passing the training programme: previous experience in a paid or voluntary care role, minimum qualification levels and good interpersonal skills.
This is mandated by the NHS, and each volunteer receives clinical training, including official courses developed in partnership with and approved by NHS England. As well as extensive training, they will be subject to assessments and clinical supervision to ensure their own safety and that of everyone receiving the vaccine.
I am proud to volunteer for St John Ambulance and proud to be in a position to be able to protect the public. I feel that helping in this national effort is giving back to my community and hopefully taking some of that burden from the NHS.
This role will last as long as it takes to vaccinate the whole country, and I’ll be there until every last person has had one and we are back to some normality. If you are interested in helping too, you can find out more here.
A message from Ridgewood Sixth Form Director, Liz Thorpe:
''James is one of our fabulous Year 13 students' who volunteers hours of his time for the St John's Ambulance; his aspiration is to become a paramedic. When you speak to James about the work he does with the St John's Ambulance to support and keep the community safe, you can hear the pride he takes in his role and the passion he has to help others. Over the past 2 years, James has delivered assemblies and First Aid training to his peers in Sixth Form to raise their awareness and skills to help others in need. His calm and reassuring nature will be valued by many in the role he has recently taken on as an 'NHS Vaccine Care Volunteer'.''