Advantage people: supporting the vaccination rollout programme

Jo Dentry, our inhouse PA, has been on flexible working hours since the pandemic broke out. Normally used to a very busy schedule, Jo struggled to find things to keep herself occupied as the summer drew to a close last year so started to look elsewhere to find motivation and to help keep her mental health in check. In August she adopted a rescued Romanian street dog called Amos, who she says has ‘given her so much joy’. In December she heard her local Doctor’s surgery needed volunteers for the vaccination rollout in her area, so she signed up. We wanted to find out what had motivated Jo to volunteer and what the experience has been like for her…

Why did you decide to volunteer?
I am not good being stuck at home with nothing to do, I was conscious that my mental health was starting to feel affected and so started looking into volunteering options in my area. I have surprised myself on how much I’ve enjoyed it, it has helped to keep me busy, given me a sense of purpose and also there’s a sense of excitement that I’m playing a part in helping the country slowly move into recovery.

What’s happens at the sites you volunteer at? 
I was one of the first volunteers for my area and joined at a point when my GP surgery joined others in Havering to organise the initial vaccination rollout with each surgery putting forward people to start things off. In December we had approx. 500 vaccinations done a day – fast forward two months and now the army have arrived to help, and the sites I’m at are vaccinating approx. 800 people a day.

What do you have to do there?
There are a few roles that the volunteers have to take on including registration and greeting patients, cleaning the chairs, sorting out admin, monitoring the observation area and my favourite role of all, ‘The Podmaster’ where we have to direct patients to a vaccine pod and monitor the flow. I also like being in the registration area as that’s when we can have the most conversations and help to calm anyone down who is feeling anxious or assist with reading the consent form (those masks do tend to steam up reading glasses!)

What has stood out for you the most?
On a positive note, it has been amazing to be in a room with people again! We have had some real characters come by including one gentleman who arrived suited and booted wearing a trilby hat so had really dressed up for the occasion. We had a spritely 94-year-old come bouncing in fighting fit and I was amazed at her energy. On a more serious note, we’ve had a few patients who have had panic attacks and have been really anxious whilst waiting for their jab – some of our patients haven’t been out for a year now so the vaccination process has been a big step for some, but overall, it has brought an enormous sense of relief for them as they walk out of the door. 

A final thought?
I can’t wait for things to get back to normal and to travel again but in the meantime I’m enjoying the different kinds of people I am getting to meet, one elderly gentleman while handing back his timer (that is required for the 15 minute observation period following the Pfizer vaccine) smiled and said ‘Now I know how it feels to be a boiled egg’ a classic Dad joke that really made me smile and reminded me of my own Dad!

Jo Dentry is PA to the CEO of Advantage Travel Partnership.

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Danni de Nervaux

Marketing Campaign and PR Manager

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