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The country’s top nurse has praised the incredible efforts of health service staff, volunteers and NHS returners – and urged other former and future colleagues to join up too to help combat Omicron.
Chief Nurse Ruth May called on student nurses, medical students and doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who have retired to enlist in the NHS COVID vaccine programme, the biggest and fastest in health service history.
The call comes as cases of Omicron increase, with boosters providing critical protection from the new variant.
Former staff, students and volunteers that would like to join the vaccine team, are being urged to go to www.england.nhs.uk/joinvaccineteam to find out how they can help.
Returning NHS staff, medical and nursing students and volunteers have played a crucial role throughout the pandemic, treating COVID patients and helping with the initial vaccine rollout.
Chief Nurse for the NHS Ruth May, said: “NHS staff and our fantastic volunteers are going full throttle to accelerate the COVID vaccination programme, the biggest and fastest in health service history.
“I want to thank all those who are once again stepping up to make sure as many people as possible are protected while caring for thousands with the virus who need hospital treatment.
“But with Omicron case numbers soaring this new strain poses a grave threat.
“That is why I am using my free time vaccinating and why we’re asking past and future generations of NHS staff, along with the public, to play their part in this herculean task.
“The NHS COVID vaccination programme has been designed and delivered by health service staff but it is the amazing volunteers who have enabled us to roll it out at such pace.
“So thank you to the thousands of former staff who have heeded the NHS’s call and if you are thinking of getting involved please do not delay, sign up today and help the country to get boosted now”.
The NHS COVID vaccinations programme is continuing to expand at speed with more pop-up vaccination centres opening everyday – new sites include workplaces like Jaguar Land Rover – who are among the employers working with the NHS to provide on site jabs, in a bid to encourage their employees to “get boosted.”
Having already offered the first two doses of the vaccine to around 9,000 employees at its factory in Solihull, the car giant is now also getting booster jabs to staff, their friends and family, and the local community. The site, open 8am to 6pm between now and Christmas Eve, offers first, second and booster doses as drive-in appointments.
Dr Steve Iley, Chief Medical Officer at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We’re pleased to be able to support the national vaccination effort by offering our facility to Birmingham and Solihull NHS.
“Getting vaccinated and boosted remains the best thing you can do to protect against getting seriously ill from COVID-19, so we’re encouraging all of our employees, as well as the local community, to come along”.
As the booster programme ramps up, the NHS is encouraging other large employers to follow suit to help get employees, their families and local communities protected from the new variant. So if your business can help us do even more in your community or even volunteer – the NHS want to hear from you.
Since bookings for boosters for over 30s opened at the start of the week, more than one million appointments have been booked. While almost 20 million people have now had their booster jabs in England at one of 3,000 vaccine sites across the country, staffed by over 90,000 volunteers.
Existing NHS staff are also being redeployed so that they can focus on protecting the entire country as quickly as possible.
GP teams have been asked to clinically prioritise their services to free up maximum capacity to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme, alongside delivering critical appointments such as cancer, urgent and emergency care.