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Gravesend Mass Vaccination Centre: A Vaccinator’s Tale


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A retired nurse who has returned to help vaccinate thousands of people at a mass hub has spoken of the 'privilege' of the role.

Jed spent 40 years as an NHS nurse but has come out of retirement to support the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out, and is now working at the centre at The Woodville, Gravesend, which is serving patients across north Kent including Medway.

Jed has been working at the mass vaccination centre in Gravesend
Jed has been working at the mass vaccination centre in Gravesend

The centre has capacity for 2,000 people per day – equal to almost three every minute. There were long queues on Monday, but these have now subsided. Patients are reminded to come at their allocated time.

The grandfather, who lives in High Halstow, on the Hoo Peninsula, wrote to us, saying he wanted to share his first few weeks as a Covid-19 vaccinator, adding: "It has been a brilliant experience."

Here is "A Vaccinator’s Tale". Jed wrote: "After 40 years working as an NHS nurse in hospitals, hospices and community teams, I retired in September 2017.

"More time now for reading, walking, music and gardening, not to mention one very lively little grandson!

"Then along came this dreadful pandemic, with its awful impact on all our lives.

Jed ready for the next patient at the mass vaccination centre in Gravesend
Jed ready for the next patient at the mass vaccination centre in Gravesend

"I’ve often heard it said that ‘Once a nurse, always a nurse’, and I leapt at the opportunity to become actively involved in the fight back against this horrible virus.

"Having completed the required training, I started work at the Gravesend Mass Vaccination Centre when it opened on February 1. Since then, it’s been my privilege to meet hundreds of vaccinees.

"Many of them have been elderly and frail and they have – often accompanied by their carers – braved some very cold weather and slippery pavements to attend for the first of their two doses.

"Although each injection procedure with its ‘Can you roll your sleeve up for me, please?’ usually lasts for just a few moments, so many heartfelt expressions of appreciation and gratitude have made a deep impression on all of us at the hub.

The Mass Covid Vaccination Centre at Gravesend's Woodville theatre can deal with hundreds of patients a day
The Mass Covid Vaccination Centre at Gravesend's Woodville theatre can deal with hundreds of patients a day

"We are a friendly and multi-skilled team from a wide variety of backgrounds.

"My colleagues include trainee and qualified nurses and midwives – I received my own vaccination from Holly, a student midwife – as well as dentists, paramedics, medical students, radiographers, therapists, pharmacists, admin, support workers, and retirees like myself.

"I’ve also worked shifts with a veterinary surgeon, retired police officers, teachers and lecturers, furloughed airline personnel, and an international mountain guide!

"We have swapped stories from our different work experiences, but none of us has known anything to compare with this.

"It is, of course, very encouraging to hear all the latest reports of falling case numbers and the reduced spread of Covid-19, but we must all keep our guard up, at least for now. Amazing progress, when only a matter of months ago we were thinking that it might be years before a safe and effective vaccine became available.

"We hope to be kept busy vaccinating over the coming months, encouraging more and more people to attend for their first dose, as others return for their second.

"Stay safe, everyone."

To find out how to book your coronavirus vaccine, click here.

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