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Pandemic protection: reflections and possibilities

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In the final instalment of this series, accuracy checking technician Paula Woodgate muses on her involvement in the Covid-19 vaccination process and what lies ahead

When we started our Covid vaccination training in December, I don’t think we realised just what we would have been able to achieve six months later. But my team and I have administered 25,770 doses so far and there are still so many to go. It’s a great achievement and I’m so proud.

We’re currently administering the AstraZeneca vaccine in the clinics on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and the Pfizer vaccine on Saturdays – we don’t want to give anyone the wrong one! There are two more weeks of AstraZeneca doses booked in, mainly finishing off second doses, and then we’re likely to move onto Pfizer full time as more younger people come through the system. We’ll do the odd batch of AstraZeneca if there’s demand, but our focus will definitely shift.

We’ve also been trialling walk-in clinics on days when we don’t have many vaccinations booked in. They’ve gone quite well so far, so we might factor more in over the next few weeks.

Professional progression 

When I initially realised that they had asked pharmacy technicians to come on board to do the training for Covid vaccinations, it was a pleasant surprise. We’ve never been able to do things like that before as pharmacy technicians; there was talk of being able to help with the flu jabs at one point, but that never happened, so when this came, it offered a step up for us. 

Once this is all finished and it comes back to flu season, I’m really hopeful that the powers that be will acknowledge that we’ve done really well, we’ve proved ourselves and that pharmacy technicians will therefore be given the opportunity to carry on and do flu jabs as well as other vaccinations that are available through community pharmacy (see Professional progress for more). It’d be such a shame to use it now and then lose it later.

For now, we’re staying open and we’re hoping to offer Covid booster jabs once they become available (see Covid booster plans). As long as there’s still a virus to tackle and work to be done, we’ll carry on with our vaccination centre.

Step up and be counted

I would encourage other pharmacy technicians to get involved if they can, especially with the booster programme that’s coming up in the autumn. 

It’s been really rewarding to be a part of the vaccination clinic. As a team, we just feel really proud to be on the frontline of the pandemic and to be able to help out in a primary care setting; it’s really fabulous to be involved and we really do feel like we’re making a difference. 

From a personal perspective, I’m so glad I plucked up the courage to do the training, despite being scared of needles. I wouldn’t say I’m cured, but it’s definitely helped! As well as gaining that additional practical skill, the vaccination centre has also allowed me to develop my organisational abilities. Being on the ball with organisation is crucial to make sure we’ve got enough vaccinators, volunteers and staff in the pharmacy so we can run a successful vaccination clinic and also maintain our high standards of care in the pharmacy. It’s been a challenge to juggle it all, but I think I’ve risen to the challenge, and I’ve been able to add more strings to my bow as a result.

This whole experience has been so amazing for me. I would love more pharmacy technicians to be able to get involved and vaccinate because I think sometimes, we can be a bit undervalued. For us, this is an opportunity to step up, be counted and prove what we can do and that’s brilliant. 

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