What is our involvement in the vaccination programme?

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In December 2020 the UK became the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, and the UK’s vaccination programme commenced.

Vaccinations and testing are our best defence against the virus and the route to restoring Lancashire’s communities back to normality.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) is a central partner in the Lancashire Resilience Forum and its response to the pandemic since March 2020 has been integral to getting PPE to Lancashire health care settings, undertaking face fitting for NHS staff and worked as the Fire Safety Regulator in the build of Nightingale hospitals.

Now as the country moves to mass vaccination programmes, staff from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service are once again stepping up to assist. Our wholetime and on-call firefighters plus community safety and support services staff are well equipped with the skills to help local NHS services deliver and administer vaccinations across the county.

With lateral flow testing already underway within Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service it means all our staff, including those who are undertaking vital COVID work, are kept safe and we are able to prevent the spread of the virus by anyone who may be asymptomatic.  We are undertaking lateral flow testing at many of our stations, at our training centre and headquarters, with all sites due to be included by February.

LFRS staff are helping to run the vaccination sites enabling Lancashire’s most vulnerable patients to access the vaccine. They are working alongside NHS GPs, pharmacists, vaccinators and many others welcoming patients, helping them book in, marshalling them through the sites and providing information and reassurance. We also have 60 members of staff undertaking vaccinator training at the moment which will help ease the pressure on our NHS colleagues. Our staff receive NHS training and all the necessary supervision and PPE for the safety of volunteers and patients alike..

We have had 35 members of staff (from a mix of roles) redeployed to undertake a role under the vaccine programme with other members of staff pledging to give their time on their days off or when other work allows.

We have received nothing but praise from NHS colleagues and members of the public alike for our efforts so far and as a Service are so proud to be able to assist. We’d like to assure residents that our utmost importance is of course being able to deliver an emergency response and we have robust plans in place to account for our staff being redeployed in the vaccination effort whilst also maintaining our core services. We’ve adapted how we deliver some of our services  to keep Lancashire residents safe and you can read about our prevention work here.

We are pleased to share with you some of the responses we’ve had so far from members of the public:

“I took my 89 year old mother for her Covid-19 vaccine this morning. I just wanted to say how well organised your guys were and were having a laugh and a joke with the elderly. Well done everyone concerned.”

“I just wanted to give credit to your fire service personnel. What a fab group of guys and a super organised process. A credit to you all.

“I took my 83yr old Aunt this morning for her Covid vaccination. I had the pleasure of meeting three on-call firefighters who were helping out. One from Padiham and two from Bolton-le-Sands. What cracking guys they were. I had to wait outside for 45 minutes and watched these men meet and greet every one of the elderly people who were attending. They went out of their way to help the elderly down steps, into wheelchairs, kept them warm indoors whilst waiting for their cars. Nothing was too much trouble. What a credit they were to the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.  What pleasure I got from watching their humanity and humility. Please give them a huge pat on the back.”

”I just wanted to say – what an amazing day it has been today (16 December) working with your most wonderful colleagues.  They have been kind, supportive, empathetic, coordinated and they have all worked so very hard and wonderfully today, all with a big smile on their face. I cannot tell you how amazing it has been to work alongside your staff – they have been a dream. Please pass on our sincere thank you.”

Some of our staff have said:

“I helped out at a vaccination centre yesterday and spent a really enlightening and thoroughly worthwhile day chaperoning elderly and vulnerable members of the community. Witnessing the resilience of people, and talking to them about their experiences whilst helping them to and from their vehicles was genuinely uplifting. I’ll certainly be doing it again and would encourage you all to do the same. The vaccination centres are well managed, Covid safety is at the forefront of all activities and our assistance is genuinely and gratefully appreciated.  Our involvement is helping to make a significant difference in the fight against Covid-19.”

“Proud to be part of an amazing team assisting NHS colleagues. It is such a privilege to be in a position to make a difference. I will look back in years to come and my children and grandchildren will be so proud in the role I have played to help save lives.”

As more and more people are called to receive their vaccines and as the mass vaccination centres open we look forward to our staff welcoming you and being alongside you as you undertake this pivotal moment.

You can learn more about how Fire and Rescue Services across the country are assisting in COVID response by reading this article from the National Fire Chiefs Council.