By Frank Shannon
In response to the developing Covid pandemic in Mar 20, the Nursing and Midwifery Council commenced re-registration of recently retired nurses with lapsed registrations onto the Emergency Covid Register. All UK NHS facilities were then given access to that list. I was on the list, and my name is not Pike.
In Sep 20, I received a call from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) inviting me to join the Norfolk and Waveney Medical Reservist Programme. The aim being to support the hoped-for vaccination program should effective Covid vaccines be developed. By early Nov 20, the cohort had been recruited. In preparation for clinical deployment, a series of on-line training modules had to be completed for both Flu and Covid vaccination, epidemiology of viral disease, recognising and treating adverse and anaphylaxis reactions, and data handling etc. Some of the modules were very comprehensive and the few remaining grey cells were stretched. I also had to attend life support training (CPR etc) at the James Paget Hospital, Ipswich.
I managed to complete all training and was formally available for clinical deployment from 1 Dec 20. Since then, I have completed 2- 3 shifts per week at the N&N and we are vaccinating up to 450 patients per day. The Pfizer vaccine is not very stable and requires specialist handling and reconstitution processes. All patients at the moment are the elderly and front-line health care workers according to the Governments priority listing. One lady was 100 years old, sharp as a tack, and strolled in unaided!
Depending on the weather conditions, I prefer to ride there as it is a 100 mile ‘round trip and the bike is nimbler on rural roads. The V Strom has been ideal. In addition to the N&N, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn, (QEH) has now come on stream as a vaccination hub. The QEH is only 10 miles from home and I will be dividing my duties between both sites as required.
Emergency Registrations are current to 1 Apr 21 but there is a feeling they will be extended for some time yet as the national vaccination program will undoubtedly continue for the majority of 2021 at least.
In my former professional life, all my patients were either stunned or shot. Now they are wide awake! Nevertheless, they are a delight to treat and it is very rewarding to be involved in such a vital public health endeavour of such scale.