The volunteers behind the vaccines

Since the first Covid-19 vaccine was administered in Ross-on-Wye just before Christmas on 19 December, the roll out has been a huge success with around 1,260 patients from south and west Herefordshire being given the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab in the first weekend alone. The logistics involved in rolling this out at short notice were enormous and only made possible by the dedicated team of volunteers rallied together in a very short space of time by the Ross Lions & Ross Rotary Clubs and the Ross-on-Wye Community Development Trust.  To date, the volunteer teams have completed two Pfizer rollouts at The Larruperz Centre in Ross-on-Wye (the third is due on 29-31 January) and one Oxford vaccine rollout at three locations – Pendeen, Alton Street and Much Birch GP surgeries.

Due to the high number of people being vaccinated and the need to complete them in quick succession, the vaccine volunteer shifts are packed into three days over the weekends with a total of 28 four-hour shifts, starting at 8am and sometimes continuing until 8pm depending on requirements. With the recent winter weather proving challenging, it has meant that volunteers have had to work through the cold, rain and icy conditions, ensuring they follow social distancing guidelines as well as safely helping the most vulnerable in the community who arrive for their vaccinations.

Richard Williams, the Volunteer Support Services Co-ordinator, is responsible for pulling together the complex rotas which have been taking place over a series of weekends from 19 December. Richard commented: “I have a pool of over 75 active volunteers and ensure that all of them take part in one or more shifts. My scheduling allows for around 25 hours per vaccine rollout and there are three volunteer support teams, each having two volunteers per shift, plus an Onsite Co-ordinator who covers all teams for rest periods and comfort breaks.

The three key volunteer teams include:

The Carpark Attendant Team who work outside to supervise the parking area and encourage those who arrive early to wait in their cars due to a ‘no waiting’ policy within the Larruperz Centre.

Volunteers working on the Door Marshal Team at The Larruperz Centre

Once patients are called up, the Door Marshal Team meet patients as they enter – often with their carer or family member – and direct them to the reception area where they are called forward for their vaccination by an NHS staff member.

Finally, after the vaccination takes place, the Observation Marshal Team receive patients from an NHS staff member, talk with the patients whilst they wait for the statutory 15 minutes’ recovery time, before helping them to leave the centre. In addition to the onsite vaccine team, the Ross Rotary, Lions and Ross Community Development Trust teams also assist the three local pharmacies – Benjamin’s, Cohens and Boots – when called upon to deliver medication.

Over the next week, we will be profiling six of the vaccine volunteers who have been involved with the roll out in various capacities onsite at The Larruperz Centre.

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