A personal perspective on setting up the COVID-19 vaccination clinic

Towards the end of 2020, the Middlewood PCN was asked to prepare to deliver an unprecedented vaccination campaign to vaccinate our registered population against COVID-19. Excited and daunted was how I felt!  I have always been very involved in designing and running our flu clinics and having changed our delivery model for flu vaccinations last year,  to enable safe socially distanced clinics,  we had had something of a practice run.

Still feeling excited but daunted, I knew, this would be different.

These were brand new vaccines, in some cases requiring dilution and careful storage and preparation.  Staff would have to use a data and booking system that they are unfamiliar with. It also meant all staff involved in the clinics would need to complete hours of training and we would need to implement dozens of standard operating procedures and protocols. There would be multiple quality and readiness inspections and phone calls before we could even open our doors. Dr. Rachel Hall was appointed as clinical lead and I was appointed operational lead. We set to work!

Thanks to the kind cooperation of the Poynton Town Council the main hall of the civic hall was transformed into a clinic that has the capacity to receive up to 1500 patients per day. As Clinical Quality & Research Manager my role is usually in the practice working with our team ‘behind the scenes’ This opportunity allowed me to draw on my experience as a registered pharmacy technician and I have really enjoyed utilising my skills to plan and help deliver clinics, particularly vaccine preparation. I have also helped with data entry, checking patients in at the door, and have even trained as a vaccinator. Due to an amazing response from clinical volunteers, I haven’t actually needed to vaccinate so far.

Shortly after we ran our first clinics my son contracted COVID-19 at school and passed it on to myself and my husband.  I had received the vaccine 10 days before I tested positive and I think this resulted in my symptoms being less severe.  However, my husband was hospitalised with pneumonia. This was a very stressful time for our family.  Fortunately, we have all now recovered.

During the time that I was isolating, I was able to continue working remotely to ensure the clinics continued to run smoothly (with the help of the rest of the team). It’s really important to remember you can still contract COVID-19 even after you have been vaccinated and pass it on to others.  We all need to remember to continue with social distancing measures for now.

By the end of this week, we should have completed cohort 6 vaccinations (age 16-64 with underlying health conditions). At this point, we do not know what vaccine supply we will receive next week and we are still awaiting further details about arrangements for second doses. Working with such tight deadlines and short notice is challenging but with the help of our team and volunteers, we are proud of what we have achieved and will continue to work hard to ensure second doses are delivered in the same efficient manner.