Tens of thousands of vaccination workers and volunteers are being urged to sign up and help the national Covid-19 vaccination programme.
The NHS launched a recruitment drive for volunteers and paid staff on the anniversary of the first person in the world to receive a Covid-19 jab as part of a mass vaccination programme.
It was a year ago when Margaret Keenan received the Pfizer jab in Coventry, launching the biggest NHS vaccination drive in history.
Since then, just over 51 million first doses of vaccine have been given in the UK, along with more than 46 million second doses and 20 million extra doses.
Almost 3,000 vaccine sites have been established across the country, staffed by more than 92,000 NHS staff and over 118,000 volunteers – who have given over 1.9 million hours to help protect millions of people at speed.
Now the NHS is asking for paid staff and volunteers join the programme as it reaches its “most complex stage”.
Some 10,000 new roles are being advertised include vaccinators, admin staff and healthcare support workers.
The NHS is also working with the Royal Voluntary Service and St John, to drum up the support of more than 42,000 volunteers.
Last week the Prime Minister said that the health service would offer booster shots to adults in England before the end of January in response to the new threat from the Omicron variant.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England, 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.
This autumn/winter it’s essential you protect yourself and others against both flu and COVID-19.
— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) December 1, 2021
“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 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.”
In an interview with the PA news agency, NHS England national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “A year ago today I was in Coventry, privileged to witness Maggie Keenan make NHS history as the first person to be vaccinated with an approved Covid-19 vaccine,” he said.
“It really felt like a moment of hope at the time, and I think that is still the case, because vaccines are our main way out of this pandemic.
“A lot has happened since, it is really quite remarkable: we are within days of 100 million jobs being given in England alone; we have given first doses, second doses, third doses, boosters, we’ve gone down all the adult age ranges, we started vaccinating children; we’ve had vaccination centres everywhere – we’ve jabbed in pharmacies, we jabbed in hospitals, we’ve jabbed in GP surgeries, but we’ve also jabbed in mosques, in sports stadiums, at festivals.
“This has been an absolute remarkable effort by NHS staff and volunteers.”
Prof Powis added: “Well, we have a target to offer boosters to everybody eligible by the end of January.
“And so we are once again mobilising a huge army of NHS staff and volunteers to to hit that target.
“We’ve done this before. And I’m absolutely confident that our staff and everybody who helps us throughout the vaccine programme will be up to the task again.”
– 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.