‘Like being punched from all sides’ – share your tales from the frontline of the COVID-19 vaccination service
Pharmacist Sid Dajani explains why he has joined forces with a volunteer and retired teacher to gather tales from the frontline of the COVID-19 vaccination efforts, in the hopes of documenting these historic times
No one in the NHS signed up to be on the frontline fighting a war against a raging killer virus and those of us who worked throughout the pandemic will know what it felt to be hit by the COVID-19 tsunami.
I am a community pharmacist and volunteer vaccinator – I have personally administered more than 4,000 COVID-19 vaccines since January 2021. I am also an independent prescriber and worked full-time in a community pharmacy in Hampshire during the global pandemic.
At each stage of the unfolding COVID-19 landscape, it felt like we were getting punched from all sides. We became slaves to it, and it took an awful toll on all of our healthcare teams. COVID-19 has changed everything, but if anything, it's taught us that the frontline is where the action is, where the ideas come from and where the real work is done.
For a while, Boris Johnson's "whack-a-mole" strategy, lockdowns, and social distancing were our only weapons of defence, but then the vaccines arrived, and an exhausted workforce had to pull together in a multidisciplinary fashion, and start working with volunteers, on an unprecedented scale to ensure a successful rollout of the national vaccination programme.
We never gave up, we worked our socks off, struggled through, did our best, kept our heads up, supported each other and shared experiences. We showed ‘togetherness’ and social solidarity on an incredible journey to make things better.
COVID-19 is never going away and we may never reach the rainbow's end, but before our experiences are lost in the midst of time, some colleagues and I would like to create an archive of these weird times. When the dust settles and the pages of history are written, we may come to realise how little we know, who has made a difference and how they did it. We may perhaps find out how poorly some have been served – despite the best of intentions and the most heroic of efforts to support everybody.
We cannot build this historical record without people's insight, accounts and experiences, and we want to hear from local hero volunteers, vaccinators, those who set the clinics up, work in admin or have any experience at all, even as a patient.
What helped you cope to keep going? What made you laugh? What inspired you to help? We are collecting anecdotes and stories – no matter how funny, sad or poignant – so we can collate an invaluable archive of these times and share it with the world.
Share your story by emailing [email protected]
For more information, please visit: https://www.talesofthevaccinefrontline.org/
Sultan ‘Sid’ Dajani is a Hampshire-based contractor, independent prescriber and volunteer vaccinator