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Volunteer vaccinator: 'Why I signed up for jab rollout'

The question on everyone’s mind at the moment is when they or their vulnerable loved ones will be offered a vaccination against Covid-19.

There is no doubt that the rollout of the vaccines is a huge undertaking. The government’s initial aim is to inoculate 25 million people in the first nine ranked groups based on age and health conditions. Although there is no news on timescales, prime minister Boris Johnson has said he believed people would be seeing a “different world from Easter”.

The government has also said it will need help in stepping up the vaccination – and that’s where volunteers like Stratford town councillor Gill Cleeve come in.

The elected LibDem representative for the Hathaway ward has answered the call to become a vaccination volunteer and is currently halfway through a training course with St John Ambulance.

The medical charity is aiming to recruit 30,000 volunteers by spring to help with the rollout alongside an NHS programme and local agencies, such as GP surgeries, who are also currently recruiting staff to help with administration as well as vaccinators.

Not everyone would relish the prospect of working with needles, but Gill didn’t hesitate in applying for the role. Her motivation, she said, was “all about the community”. She added: “The quicker we get people vaccinated, the quicker we can return to some sort of normality.”

A first aid instructor with her own company, Brookvale First Aid, Gill is well qualified to take on the vaccinator training.

However, the recruitment process has been slammed by some applicants and national newspapers such as the Daily Mail, which claimed it was too bureaucratic, and argued that the fact applicants need two A-levels and have to undergo safeguarding training was “daft”.

Gill thinks the requirements are appropriate. She said: “When it comes to injecting people, yes you don’t necessarily need A-levels to do that, but for the person having the injection it’s important that they feel confident in the person giving it to them. I think having minimum standards isn’t a bad thing at all.”

If people aren’t qualified or would prefer not to administer the vaccine, there are, Gill points out, a variety of voluntary roles available.

Once she has completed eight hours of online training, Gill will move on to the practical aspects and one-to-one training. “Yes, starting with injecting oranges!”

After that, Gill doesn’t know the details of how she will be deployed yet.

But she added: “I will be giving the AstraZeneca vaccine, because that is the one that’s going to be easier to administer. I’ve also heard an estimation that I will be giving 150 injections per shift.”

She added that she felt both excited and nervous, but keen to get going: “All I want is Stratford to be back to normal. That for me is the reason for doing it. Businesses have been so affected this year, we need the need the theatres open and we need our town back.”

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