With the news this week dominated by holidays cut short in Portugal, the doubling of Delta variant virus cases every 10-12 days in parts of England, and the possibility of the lockdown roadmap being blown off course from June 21, it might be easy to overlook the vital local work under way to vaccinate against Covid.
This week at the Rye Tilling Green Pfizer site we have seen a large number of younger people keen to be vaccinated. Most had booked by selecting the Rye option via the national booking site. A few had asked to attend as “end of day” patients. The steady flow of patients through the facility has lifted the mood of both those vaccinated and the volunteers handling them.
Mostly, we have seen fortunate patients, because when the government opened up vaccine to the under 30s on 8 June, high demand combined with a global technical problem caused the website to collapse. In Rye, because of the flexible approach by the Ticehurst clinical team – Ankit, Hardik, Tejas and Venus – we were able to take some people who contacted us through the Facebook page. Everyone vaccinated is entered into the national database to ensure that records are maintained.
As the national booking site recovers, it should be noted that it only gives options for locations that have programmed advance dates for vaccine supply. As a result, Rye is not always offered as an early choice. Those booking need to have patience; decline other locations and persevere for the Rye option.
Rye still accepts “end of day” appointments for which registration of those within 10 minutes of Tilling Green will be welcomed. Those opting for this should send name, age, telephone and area where living, by direct message to the @ryepfizer Facebook page. When called, patients need to be able to check in at Tilling Green by 6pm. During each day, the Rye site will also accept a small number of “walk ins” but it is better to check by direct message @ryepfizer, to avoid disappointment.
There is much going on behind the scenes to deliver the vaccine. In addition to logistics, cleaning, marshalling the volunteers and clinical staff mostly by social media, the storage and preparation of the Pfizer vaccine requires care and skill. In Rye, this task is handled mostly by Venus, one of the Ticehurst team. The delicate operation involves dividing up the bulk vaccine, diluting and measuring it out into individual doses. At stages it has to be carefully turned to ensure that it is mixed but not disrupted.
Volunteers still needed
To operate efficiently, the centre does need more volunteers. It is obvious that those who have joined as volunteers – marshals and registration – are enjoying the experience. Vaccinators should have some clinical experience and will be paid. Training and briefing is given for everyone committing to the centre.
There is no fixed commitment. Volunteers can give as much or as little time as they can manage. Information is being passed out to the community by Rye News and via social media. Once contacted there are WhatsApp groups to link volunteers and vaccinators to the facility.
While the vaccine is a lifesaver, testing is also important to identify and then control infection. There are several sources of testing: the seven day test kits from chemists; by booking online; or by testing in the workplace. Many businesses also have kits for their workforce.
Remember hands – face – space
Finally, with the good weather bringing many visitors to the area the message remains that even after vaccination: Hands, Face and Space. Meetings in the fresh air are safer than ones in enclosed spaces.
Image Credits: Anthony Kimber .