Tuesday January 11, 2022: One year ago today, St John Ambulance vaccination volunteers delivered their first COVID-19 jabs and, almost a million hours later, the health and first aid charity’s team will continue its vital work in 2022.
St John recruited almost 30,000 vaccination volunteers who have supported the NHS vaccination programme at more than 650 locations, administering millions of first, second and booster doses, as well as supporting flu jabs across the country.
And, when the Omicron variant led the Government to call for every adult in England to get boosted, last month, the charity’s vaccination activity increased by 200% in a single week, with volunteers working flat-out throughout the festive period.
Among them was Lucy Aerts, from Essex; she was the first St John Ambulance volunteer vaccinator to administer a Covid jab at the ExCel in London on Monday January 11, 2021, and she’s still going strong
“It doesn’t feel like a year – it’s gone so fast, but the vaccination programme still feels genuinely fulfilling to be involved with,” says Lucy.
“I’ve lost count of how many jabs I’ve delivered but it must be thousands – not just Covid – but flu jabs as well – and I’ve given lots more over the last few weeks in support of the booster programme.
“This has been a big thing for St John Ambulance to take on and I think we’ve changed the way people see us.
“We’re not amateurs; we’re highly-trained, caring volunteers with professional skills who are making a really positive difference to people’s health.
“We know what we’re doing and we’re here to help.”
As St John people carry on vaccinating all over England, the charity has reached out to the public for more of them to step forward and help. To date, 18,000 people have expressed an interest in training as vaccinators and thousands are about to be trained in areas where volunteers are most needed.
“I’m not surprised thousands more people are offering to sign up as volunteer vaccinators now, because everyone wants to do their bit and help us get out of this pandemic,” Lucy adds.
“If you’re thinking about becoming a vaccinator, I would say ‘just do it’; giving injections is something that’s outside everyone’s comfort zone, but there’s plenty of support in place. Ask questions, stay curious and remember that everyone wants you to succeed.
“Being part of the Vaccination programme is the best thing I’ve done in a very long time.
“Covid has affected everybody – in all kinds of ways – but giving my time as a volunteer vaccinator with St John has really helped my mental health and wellbeing.”
If you would like to become a Volunteer Vaccinator with St John Ambulance and help continue the fight against COVID-19, click here: https://www.sja.org.uk/what-we-do/Coronavirus-support/coronavirus-vaccine/
Meanwhile, NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard has thanked St John Ambulance’s original cohort of vaccination volunteers for their efforts over the last year.
“I want to give my personal thanks to all those who have given up their time to help us beat record after record – making the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme the biggest and most successful in health service history,” she says.
“I’m sure the nation will join me in paying tribute to these amazing volunteers, whose efforts will undoubtedly help to save many more lives.”
For more information on St John Ambulance, including how to make a donation, volunteering opportunities, details of training and more, visit www.sja.org.uk