COVID-19: St John Ambulance to train thousands of volunteers to administer coronavirus jab

·3-min read

St John Ambulance has confirmed it has been approached to potentially train up volunteers to administer a coronavirus vaccine.

Last month the rules over who can give a vaccine were extended to include independent nurses, allied healthcare professionals, paramedics, physiotherapists, pharmacists and student nurses and doctors.

At the time, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "These legal changes will help us in doing everything we can to make sure we are ready to roll out a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it has passed clinical trials and undergone rigorous checks by the regulator."

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However, the Daily Mail reports that it has seen leaked plans for volunteers with no previous medical experience to be trained to administer the injections and potentially deal with any immediate adverse reactions.

It says the leaked documents suggest the only criteria needed are that the volunteer be between the age of 18 and 69, have at least two or more A-levels or equivalent, be at low risk of COVID-19 and be prepared to undergo a reference check.

The paper reports that the laws governing vaccinations have been amended again to include "people who are not registered healthcare professionals".

Confirming that it had been asked to train extra vaccine volunteers, St John Ambulance chief operating officer Richard Lee said: "During the COVID-9 pandemic, St John volunteers have already given hundreds of thousands of hours of their time, supporting the NHS in caring for patients on board ambulances, in hospitals and as part of vital community projects such as this year's seasonal flu vaccinations, and that work continues."

He went on: "St John Ambulance is proud to have been asked to support NHS staff in getting ready to deliver a COVID-19 vaccination programme when one becomes available.

"Our role includes sourcing vaccinators within the new regulations set out by government and delivering official training from Public Health England, as well as recruiting many thousands more people in patient-facing support roles, such as patient advocates and first aiders at vaccination sites."

As well as vaccination volunteers, St John Ambulance is also recruiting "vaccination care volunteers".

The role includes: "Supporting patients before or after their vaccination, providing reassurance and potentially dealing with medical emergencies."

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Like the vaccine volunteers, applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 69, be low risk of COVID-19 and undergo reference checks.

Last week, Mr Hancock said that the military and NHS staff were on standby to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine from the start of December and would work "seven days a week".

He told Sky News the NHS was leading work to get the vaccine to those most in need as soon as possible, though most people will not get a jab until 2021.

It will be delivered through care homes, GPs and pharmacists, as well as "go-to" vaccination centres set up in venues such as sports halls, he said.

And Dr Richard Vautrey, chairman of the British Medical Association's GP committee in England, said practices would "stand ready" to deliver a vaccine, with clinics potentially running from 8am-8pm, seven days a week.

Hopes that a vaccine for COVID-19 could be rolled out soon have been raised by announcements from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna of successful trials of their vaccine candidates.

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