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Pandemic protection: making a difference

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In the third instalment of this series, accuracy checking technician Paula Woodgate discusses the local reception of her Covid-19 vaccination centre

As soon as we opened the vaccination centre, there was great support from all over the local area, both from people eager to get their vaccination and those wanting to volunteer their help.

It’s all going pretty smoothly, to date, but we do have quite a lot of people ringing up asking for appointments. We’re fielding phone calls all day – the phone never stops – but it’s just a case of telling them that they have to book through the national bookings list online.

Small, but perfectly formed

There are a couple of mass vaccination centres close by – one at Elland Road football ground and one about a mile away from us in Batley. While these are great for vaccinating much larger numbers of people than we can manage, there’s certainly a benefit to smaller venues like ours, too. 

For example, there are lots of people locally who have been shielding for 12 months, or even more in some cases, and they’ve been a bit wary of going out. We’ve had some people saying they didn’t want to go a big centre because there would be a lot of people, but coming here, there are fewer people about and there aren’t as many cars in the car park, so it didn’t feel scary when they came in. It’s great that we’ve been able to offer them this option to make sure they feel comfortable.

From the beginning, we’ve been vaccinating 1,000 people per week and it just goes to show what can be achieved with a little planning, lots of enthusiasm and a supportive community.

Tears and smiles

So many people have said that they’ve been waiting a really long time for their vaccination and they can’t believe it’s finally here. A lot of them have commented that it’s like a weight has lifted from their shoulders and they feel so fantastic. We’ve even had people in tears after injections because they’re so emotional and very grateful. Having a needle stuck in your arm shouldn’t be such an amazing thing, but it is! It’s the first step towards normality and it’s brilliant to be a part of that for people.

We have received some lovely thank you letters from customers for doing their jabs and, in March, we also received a special award from the local school. They sent us a letter saying that Knights Oakwood Pharmacy had won one of their Community Spirit Awards in recognition of the part we’ve played in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out and for being an inspiration to the community. The children designed and created some jigsaw pieces (pictured) for all the winners and ours is now proudly displayed in the pharmacy. We don’t do this for any reward, we’re just here to help people, but that extra recognition and all the kind comments are really nice and help to keep us going.

Positivity reigns

When the police came for the initial inspection before we opened the vaccination centre, they did say that we might get protestors outside and that we should ring 999 if we did, but we’ve not had anything like that at all. There hasn’t been any opposition or people telling us we shouldn’t be doing it; it’s all been so positive.

We haven’t seen much vaccine hesitancy, either, although I did have one gentleman on the phone who said, “I know you’re doing the jabs, but I don’t want one”. I told him that if he didn’t want one then it’s entirely his choice, I’m not going to say he’s got to have it, just so long as he’s made an informed decision.

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