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My Story as a Covid Vaccine Coordinator

Have you already received a Covid Vaccine? The two jabs that may change our future with the hope of getting back to the norm. As the scientists around the world speedily produced the vaccine in lieu to combat the spread of Coronavirus pandemic, the NHS have been brilliant in organising the logistics to get millions of people around the UK to be vaccinated. Behind this vaccination programme is a multi disciplinary team consisting of members who portray different roles for us to get the vaccine safely and efficiently.

To paint a picture of what really happens behind the makeshift walls of a vaccination hub and seemingly never ending queue, we interviewed Jaypee, a Filipino nurse in the UK who currently coordinates a Covid vaccine facility. Draw inspiration on his journey as a vaccinator and how he demonstrated effective leadership within his role.

I'm Jaypee James Palis, currently working in East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust as Deputy Charge Nurse in a Care of the Elderly Ward and being seconded as Coordinator in COVID Vaccine Hub (Colchester Site). I am also a Royal College of Nursing Learning and Safety Representative in Eastern Region.

My Typical Day

We usually start the day with positive vibes by greeting each other to lift the mood up as the work itself is stressful. We try to make it fun, as we usually tend to forget how to enjoy our jobs. I start by doing my safety huddles in the morning, making sure that everyone practices safely from the Admin and Clerking staff, Healthcare Support workers, volunteers and vaccinators. I make sure that I have enough consumables and vaccines for all of our patients. Previously, we worked with our pharmacists to manage the preparation of vaccines but our Trust transitioned it into a nurse-led hub as pharmacists are needed in their respective posts in the hospital.

We have a new buddy system amongst our vaccinators so we could look after each other before, during and after giving the vaccine. Once we are all set, our lovely admin and volunteers start to let patients register for their vaccines and greet them as they go in.

Then, once registered, the patient goes to their respective vaccination hub to receive their vaccine. After that, we lead them to the recovery area to rest and be monitored. The patient flow is a single-way system which allows patients to socially-distance from each other.

The hub itself is complex yet we make sure that we help each other and the ultimate goal is to provide a safe and efficient vaccine to all patients. We make sure that everyone that works for the vaccination hub liaise with each other, from the governance team to the volunteers.

How did I get the job?

I started doing extra shifts in the Vaccination Hub last December 2020 and it feels like I am not at work as everyone is so happy and treats one another as a family or close friends. The team is awesome and we look after each other. I just put my best effort in helping the Vaccination Hub as it is new and we're like creeping in the dark on how to improve our services each day. I was just so lucky that my colleagues appreciated my little effort to help lead the Vaccination Hub. Hence, I was redeployed and seconded to be the Coordinator in the Vaccination Hub of Colchester Hospital.

I neither actually chose to be a Coordinator nor applied for the job. As mentioned, I have been redeployed and later on, I was recommended by the Lead Pharmacist and one of the Directors to the Chief Executive to do the job as Coordinator. For me, it is a great honor to do it and to be appointed to lead a team. Being part of the BAME community makes me even more proud as I am able to show equality of opportunities and diversity of skills and talents.

Benefits and Challenges

Working in the COVID Vaccine hub has the same benefits with the staff working in the main hospital. The difference is, the team is really diverse. The team came from different backgrounds and the best benefit is we share our experiences and we learn from one another. The technical and soft skills gained help every staff develop professionally and personally and we could bring these experiences back to our original positions in our respective areas. Moreover, different patients have unique stories to tell. Some of these stories are worth listening to as these pertain to their survival from COVID, protecting vulnerable family members or sadly losing their loved ones. These narratives made us, as health professionals, keep pushing and keep working. These stories gave us the drive to go beyond what we could do in the Vaccine Hub.

I think the biggest challenge for me is seeing people asking to have the vaccine even if they are not on the priority list of the government. I totally understand the worry of the mass. Hundred percent! But as much as I want to give everyone what is due, I still need to follow the national advice and Trust's policies and protocols. The best way to combat these types of challenges is having open communication with the members of the public or the patient and address the questions positively. In that way, people will understand more about prioritizing certain age groups and high risk individuals with clinical conditions that may lead to serious illness if they contract Covid 19.

My Thoughts about the Role

I have seen both sides of the Pandemic, from being a patient and a nurse caring for a patient with COVID-19 infection. The virus has wrestled too much on our healthcare system. Having the vaccine is a big blessing. A blessing which soon can put back smiles on our faces, can wipe the tears in our eyes and can break the barrier which separates us from our loved ones. The vaccination hub means a lot to me. Aside from having it as an opportunity to help others, it made me realize my other potentials and it opened doors for my career growth. I have discovered in the Hub that I have good organisational and managerial skills which I doubted before. After my experience here in the Vaccination Hub, I am actually moving to the Main Outpatient Department of our hospital to be the new Manager and I owe it to the skills I have developed in the COVID Vaccine Hub.

Everything is new and different with this pandemic. Aside from helping patients, it is also a way to protect my colleagues in the hospital and other patient-facing or front-facing professions. It is also a platform to encourage and educate the BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) society to protect themselves, their patients and families by having the vaccine. Misinformation about vaccines is like the Virus, it is a pandemonium and working in the Hub gave us the opportunity to alleviate the fear of having the vaccine.

I already had two doses of the COVID Vaccine myself and that is already enough for me to share it to my patients and future patients to come. I didn’t work in the Vaccination Hub to convince other people, staff or patients to get vaccinated. I am here to educate, share my experiences and address questions scientifically (in a way that everyone could understand).

If people ask me about the best vaccine, I’d say whatever is available in front of you provided that it is safe for you to have it. These vaccines have gone through rigorous research, clinical trials and funding. With the lightning quest to make it happen, it is one breakthrough that gives the entire world to hope for a better future and revert back to the normal life we once knew.


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