Our vaccination hub opened at Queen’s Hospital last week and was only made possible thanks to the hard work of several teams and countless colleagues across our Trust. We’re so proud of them for making it happen so quickly that we want to give as many of them the spotlight as we can.
Read on to hear more from Sarla Drayan, our Chief Pharmacist and Associate Director of Medicines Optimisation. It was Sarla’s team who had to get up early to ensure the vaccine was defrosted, ready to be given.
“I was keeping an eye out for the vaccine as I knew it was coming. We had little information about it until it was authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, then we knew it was a very fragile medicine and difficult to move.
Things were changing right up to the opening of our hub so we kept adjusting our planning. The hub was only set up a week before the vaccine was delivered. It really was a case of our multi-disciplinary teams working together to get everything in place. Everyone contributed.
I was excited about the vaccine – it’s a brilliant innovation. Vaccines usually take several years so this is a fantastic achievement, especially as none of the safety steps were skipped. It feels like we’re part of history.
The vaccine arrives frozen and takes three hours to thaw before it can be used. It’s a sensitive process as we must remove dry ice which is not something we usually work with and can be hazardous, we have equipment for this.
To start vaccinations at 10am members of my team have been on site unpacking from 6am, and this may get earlier if we start vaccinating earlier. We need to do this each time we get a new delivery of the vaccine.
There are strict stipulations on how many times it can be moved and how it should be handled, we need to be very careful when diluting the vials as you can’t shake them. We’ve been training all the vaccinators, which we couldn’t start until the first day of giving vaccinations, so the past week has been extremely busy.
We always have technicians in the vaccination room setting up trays for the vaccine and are able to help with any queries.
Everything has happened quickly, as we also had to get a lot of mandatory governance in place to ensure we’re keeping everyone safe and also complying with the law. The team has been brilliant. This project has been an interesting challenge and they’ve come up with solutions for everything.
It’s been a challenging time for our team like others across our Trust, we are short of colleagues due to the pandemic and the hospital doesn’t stop either, we need to keep our day-to-day service running. We’ve been very stretched like others and I’m proud of how hard they’ve worked.”