A father and daughter who volunteered as COVID Vaccination Centre Marshals are urging people in the Midlands to get their COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year.
John and Eleanor Barraclough from Derby answered the Call to Arms last December when the vaccination programme first launched. Their plea comes as the Midlands marks 5million booster jabs given, including a huge response from staff, volunteers and the general public in response to the Omicron variant in the last two weeks.
Both started as Vaccination Centre marshals in January when the Derby Arena Mass Vaccination Site first opened its doors. Nearly a year later both continue to help and provide support to thousands of patients a day at Midland House, Derby.
Eleanor, 23, said: “I wanted to be part of history, help people and get a real sense of achievement. Back in January I had no idea I’d still be helping now!
“Every day is completely different and doing it with my Dad has been amazing. We’ve laughed together, cried together and got soaking wet in the car park together!”
John, 56, added: “I’ve done everything from car park pointer, wheelchair pusher, chair wiper, encouragement and direction pointer in all weathers. We’ve seen some amazing people with incredible stories.
“When you look at the numbers, we’ve got through here at Derby to be part of that which is great. It’s a good sense of achievement. People want to come, and we want to get them vaccinated.”
John who had his right leg amputated in May, during the vaccine rollout, said the vaccination programme gave him a purpose to return as quickly as possible following the operation to continue helping people.
He said: “I had my right leg amputated but the vaccine centre gave me that reason to get up and go in the morning.
“I wanted to get back and help people and the support I received from everyone- staff and patients- was phenomenal.”
John and Eleanor are keen to encourage everyone eligible to come forward for their vaccines.
Eleanor said: “We want everyone to come forward and get their vaccines. If you’re eligible for a booster please book an appointment or come and see us down at Midland House.
“If you haven’t had your first or second dose yet it isn’t too late, and you won’t be judged. We are here to help protect you and your loved ones and vaccines are the best way!”
The vaccine programme relies on volunteer support and the NHS is looking to recruit thousands more vaccinators and volunteers to support the expansion of the programme.
Roz Lindridge, the NHS England and NHS Improvement director responsible for overseeing the vaccination programme across the Midlands, said:
“The rollout of the vaccination programme would not be the success it has been without the help of thousands of volunteers who have given so much of their time to deliver vaccines and help us save thousands of lives.
“Now the NHS is ramping up its vaccine drive once again as so many more become eligible for their booster, sooner, and so we are now recruiting thousands more staff to help us.
“The roles available are all flexible and range from vaccinators (paid and volunteer) and registered healthcare professionals to healthcare support workers, administrators and steward volunteers. All roles provide full training with appropriate supervision. If you can help, please consider stepping forward as you can play a key role in helping us to save many more lives.”
Every eligible adult can now book in for their lifesaving jab online and given some sites remain busy, the NHS is encouraging people to book in to guarantee their slot.
Appointments continue to be available over the festive period.
Anyone in the region who has not had their first or second dose is also encouraged to book an appointment as soon as possible.
It’s now even easier for people in the Midlands to get their jab as hundreds of sites are available at convenient locations, including shopping centres, sports grounds and town centres, as well as local pharmacies and GP surgeries.
All eligible people in the Midlands aged 18 and over can use the national booking service or call 119 to make an appointment.
Drop-in vaccination sites can also be found on the NHS online walk-in finder, allowing people to be jabbed without the need for an appointment.
People can sign up at https://www.england.nhs.uk/