Caroline Ogunsola, Professional Development Lead Nurse for Community Services, was the first staff member to have her COVID vaccine jab at the Trust's new COVID Vaccination Centre at Westfield, Stratford. The Vaccination Centre is to be one of a network of vaccination centres across England that will deliver the COVID vaccine. ELFT has started to roll out COVID vaccines to ensure all its staff in London, Luton, Bedfordshire and Richmond are protected.
Caroline was delighted to be playing a small part in NHS history said,"I am pleased to have had my first jab and I want to encourage everyone, especially those from BAME communities to get it. There are many myths out there but you need to get the facts to be safe.
"Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on BAME communities - this is a way to stop COVID in its tracks, stop feeling fearful when we go outdoors or to work, and eventually to get back to some normality."
Caroline went on to say,"I didn't experience any problems after the vaccination. If anything, it's given me peace of mind. Knowing people who have been seriously ill from COVID, you don't realise how much the worry of contracting coronavirus is with you. I do feel a sense of relief to have had the vaccine."
Caroline was also involved in the recruitment and training of the Westfield centre's vaccinators. The Trust had a great response to its callout for people to train as vaccinators.
Prioritising Staff Groups
The Trust has prioritised the vaccination of staff who are shielding or who have health conditions that make them vulnerable to infection. And those in patient-facing roles.
The first group to be vaccinated were staff working with sick children in Newham, and then staff providing services to older people. As well the Westfield site, NHS trusts in North East London, Hounslow, Luton and Bedfordshire have offered vaccination slots to ELFT staff to accelerate the vaccination of all NHS personnel. The next stage will be to offer vaccination slots to all staff in the Trust to protect the whole workforce. All ELFT staff are regarded as key workers as all roles support frontline services.
Dr Paul Gilluley, ELFT's Chief Medical Officer, has led on establishing the staff vaccination programme and setting up the Westfield Vaccination Centre.
Dr Paul Gilluley, ELFT's Chief Medical Officer, has led on establishing the staff vaccination programme and setting up the Westfield Vaccination Centre. He said, "I feel I can breathe a sigh of relief now that we are able to vaccinate our staff. They have worked solidly throughout the pandemic, worried about their patients, about their own health and worried about inadvertently transmitting the coronavirus to their families. It means our workforce can be assured that they are protected and able to continue the great work they do caring for people who need them.
I am grateful to our NHS partners for enabling our staff to get vaccinated and pleased that we are now in a position to vaccinate more of our staff ourselves - and serve our communities when the centre becomes part of the national network."
Still Need to Wear Masks and Observe Infection Prevention Measures
Having the vaccine isn't compulsory but the Trust is strongly urging all staff to get vaccinated to reduce the risk of illness. Anyone who has the vaccine and booster will still need to wear masks and continue to observe all infection control measures both in work and outside of work too. Whilst the vaccine protects the individual, the virus can still be transmitted to others.
The Trust has been using the centre to train vaccinators, and test processes and protocols. The Westfield COVID-19 Vaccination Centre will be open for public vaccination from 25 January. It will be an appointment-only service arranged through a central booking service. People will be contacted to book a vaccination slot in line with the Government's priority listing which will call those most vulnerable first. People will be able to book their jab at the vaccination centre of their choice. Westfield will be one of those options.
FAQ: COVID Vaccine