Meet the student nurses who have become vaccinators

Categories: School of Health and Society

Six Salford Nursing students have joined the thousands of other NHS staff who have signed up to administer the vaccines.

Second year students Laura Williams and Kelly Burton signed up because they wanted to ‘do their bit’ to help with the vaccination programme.

Laura, 35, who is living in Hayfield, Derbyshire, said: “The nurses are so stressed out at the moment, even the practice nurses. They’re working tirelessly to make sure everyone gets vaccinated and we’re doing really well here with our vaccinating.”

After living in lockdown focused entirely on her family and university work, she decided she wanted to help out.

“I’m at home, I’ve got two young kids and a husband. My husband has had a lot of medical conditions these past couple of years, so we really wanted to give back as much as we can to help out.

“Even though I’m still a student, you still want to help out and do your bit.”

After struggling to get through the NHS’s system to become a vaccinator, Laura eventually phoned her local GPs to offer her services and immediately was invited to help with vaccinations.

She said: “I found myself phoning my local GPs and they were just taking on volunteers and helping out nursing students.”

At the moment, Laura tries to vaccinate when she’s free at the weekend, giving vaccinations throughout the day non-stop with queues streaming round the corner.

Despite the non-stop stream of people, Laura still loves doing it.

“It’s been fantastic. I’ve had great training from the nurses that help me out.

“Everyone who comes in are just longing to be vaccinated, they’re just so excited about it and are just wanting to get some normality back – I don’t think I’ve come across anyone who’s had any real doubts about it.”

Kelly Burton, 50, another second-year Adult Nurse, began vaccinating recently and had the chance to vaccinate her daughter, a nurse at Salford Royal, who previously caught Covid in April 2020.

Kelly said she was ‘absolutely terrified’ when her daughter, 23-year-old Nicole Burton, called her and told her she had contracted the virus.

Kelly said: “We had no idea how bad it was going to be, but she was upbeat and more protective of me than herself.

“I took food and paracetamol to her in Manchester and the hardest moment of my life was not being able to hug her or even touch her but simply place the shopping two metres away and then step safely back.

“Nicole never complained once and was off work for three weeks.”

It was down to ‘sheer luck’ that Kelly was able to administer Nicole’s second vaccine. 

“It was an immense pleasure to vaccinate her, it was sheer luck that I was working on the day she came and of course she had the choice of anyone to do it. 

“I felt proud that I could do this for her as her mum. Her first vaccine was on a day I wasn’t yet a vaccinator but I was working in the clinic and she was jabbed by a Lead Nurse on that occasion who was stepping up to get the vaccines rolled out. 

“It was a strange feeling knowing that you are causing momentary pain to your own child, but that it would be worse watching someone else do it. 

“She is the most amazing nurse as well and I feel proud of her contribution to the pandemic.  She only qualified in September 2019 and has worked in ICU throughout this winter when more nurses were needed which was a huge challenge for her in a very demanding environment.”

Having previously worked on Covid wards and then going on to support families of those who were dying with Covid, Kelly feels as though becoming a vaccinator is the ‘final step’ of her journey.

“I can see the hope and relief in people as they pass through to have their jabs. I feel very lucky to have been able to see the full cycle.”

Kelly had also seen first-hand the effect the vaccination programme is having on hospital wards.

“I could see that a lot of our patients were gone now in the Covid wards and people were starting to die more naturally. They were mainly 90-year-old people who were dying of things other than Covid. So I can see the effect coming through now.”

She said she was looking forward to getting stuck in and to gain some valuable experience.

Kelly said: “I’m never going to get the chance to practice so many IM (Intermusuclar injections).

“I kind of went through a phase when the vaccines were coming out and I thought I won’t do it, it’s been a long time. Eventually, I gave myself a good slap and thought I probably wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for all the vaccinations I’ve had. So, I signed up to have the vaccination myself and… it’s just nice, it’s a nice atmosphere, it’s nice to support and it’s good to promote it.”

Kelly signed up through the NHS to vaccinate at both her placement hospital and one in Tameside. She explained how it took 8-10 hours of unpaid training along with chasing it up to organise it all.

She said: “It was ridiculously hard, if you’re not as persistent as me I don’t think you would bother.”

Despite this, Kelly said she’d still recommend it to everyone.

“I think whatever you do during the pandemic, it’s always going to sit well.”

Asked what the best part of being a student vaccinator was, Kelly believes it’s the opportunities that open up to you.

She said: “You’re getting to meet people. For example, one vaccinator is an LGBT sexual health adviser from LGBT Foundation. He’s vaccinating one day a week so you’re getting this crossover of skills so for networking, it’s fantastic.

“But also, there’s a real-life war-spirit to this. Everybody is equal so it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the assistant director of nursing putting a jab in an arm or a student; everybody is respectful and it’s lovely - it’s literally like a social event.”

Laura agreed that the opportunities was one of the best parts of vaccinating.

She said: “It opens doors to you. The practice that I’ve been with, they’re going to allow me to go back in and watch other sessions that they do. So it’s opportunities like that that I might not have had.

Laura also added: “It’s just seeing people and reassuring them and helping them try to get their lives back to normal really. We’ve been stuck inside for so long and that’s why I love being on placement because you get to see people and talk to the people – so that’s my favourite part of it.”

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