NHS launches new recruitment drive on COVID ‘Jabiversary’

The NHS is launching a drive to recruit 10,000 vaccination workers today on the ‘jabiversary’ of the first Pfizer jab.

The health service made history when Margaret Keenan received the jab at Coventry a year ago, launching the NHS vaccination programme, the world’s first national effort to protect people against the virus.

Twelve months on, hard-working NHS staff are expected to deliver the 100 millionth jab as the health service again ramps up the vaccination programme in response to the new threat from the Omicron variant.

The milestone is expected to be reached today after the programme delivered 42.9 million first doses, 39 million second doses and more than 17 million top-up jabs.

Almost 3,000 vaccine sites have been stood up across the country, staffed by NHS staff and over 118,000 NHS volunteers – who have given over 1.9 million hours to help protect millions of people at speed.

However, the COVID Vaccination programme is now in its most complex phase yet and the NHS is once again calling on everyone to play their part in the new ‘national mission’.

From today, 10,000 new roles are being advertised to help the health service provide boosters to millions more people from across the country. New jobs include vaccinators, admin staff and healthcare support workers – depending on demand in local areas.

The NHS is also working with the Royal Voluntary Service and St John, to drum up the support of more than 42,000 volunteers.

NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard said: “One year ago today, the NHS made history when Maggie Keenan was the first person to receive a Pfizer vaccination outside a clinical trial.

“Maggie’s jab marked the launch of the world’s first national vaccination programme – watched around the globe it was a moment of hope after months of fear.

“Since that point, the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme, the biggest and fastest in our history, has delivered almost 100 million jabs, protecting tens of millions of us against the virus.

“The rollout would not have been as successful as it has been without the help of thousands of volunteers who have given over one million hours to deliver vaccines and help us save thousands of lives.

“Now the NHS is ramping up its vaccine drive once again as millions more become eligible for their booster, sooner, following updated Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance, and so we are now recruiting 10,000 more staff to help us in our national mission.

“If you are interested in applying, or if you want to volunteer, search ‘NHS vaccine team’ to find out how you can help us.

“The NHS and the country needs you once again – you can play a key role in helping us to save many more lives”.

Matron May Parsons delivered the historic vaccination to 91-year-old Margaret, known as Maggie, at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust on 8 December 2020.

Maggie is a former jewellery shop assistant who only retired six years ago and has two children and four grandchildren.

The NHS is vaccinating in line with JCVI guidance and will offer boosters to the most vulnerable first before expanding down the age ranges in five-year intervals, through those aged 18 to 39.

While changes to the booking system, protocols and patient group directive are put in place, the NHS will continue to vaccinate the millions of people who were already eligible for top-up jabs.

The National Booking Service is being updated to reflect the new JCVI guidance and will begin by reducing the six-month interval to three so that those aged over 40 can book in.

In the meantime, existing booking arrangements will remain in place – there is no need to cancel your appointment if people have already booked in.

There are more places delivering vaccines now than at any other point in the programme, with almost 3,000 sites, including pharmacies, GP practices and other community sites, meaning the vast majority of people live within 10 miles of a fixed vaccination clinic.

People can get their vaccine by booking online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119, and GP practices are also inviting those who are eligible.