Healthcare students at Fife College have been playing a key part in the vaccination programme after signing up to administer the vaccine.
Earlier this year lecturers urged students on the HNC Care & Administrative Practice and the Health & Social Care courses to consider signing up as vaccinators to help with the roll-out in the region.
After going through thorough training and being shadowed by NHS professionals, several students have now been approved to provide the injections at sites across Fife, including East End Park, Oakley and the Parkgate Community Centre.
Students at the College receive training in healthcare support, which can provide an entry route to degrees in nursing, midwifery and other health professions.
Their courses usually consist of several mandatory placements in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital ward or care home.
But with the Coronavirus pandemic limiting the availability of these placements, being able to act as vaccinators has helped students to gain invaluable experience.
Jennifer Colling, a student from Torryburn, is one of the students who has qualified as a vaccinator. She said:
“I heard through my lecturers that we could get involved in the vaccination programme and I wanted to help out, so I applied to NHS Fife and told some of my classmates to consider it as well.
“The training for it was really useful, and administering the vaccine is a new experience from what I'd done before.
“It’s amazing to be part of something that feels historic, and that might provide the solution to a situation that has changed so many lives over the past year.
“I’ve applied to study midwifery at university, and without this opportunity I wouldn’t have been able to gain so much first-hand experience.”
Fife College student Heather Smith, from Dunfermline, said that the experience would help her in her future career in adult nursing. She said:
“My lecturers told me that NHS Fife were looking for people to administer the vaccine so I got in touch to see if I could help out.
“The training was really thorough and we learnt a lot about the Pfizer and Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccines, before getting the chance to go in and do clinical practice under supervision.
“It’s been great to help out with the process, and everyone who I’ve seen has been really grateful and appreciative.
“For me personally it’s been great to get some practical experience. I’m hoping to go into adult nursing so this has really helped me in my university applications.”
Kirsty Doig, a student from Dalgety Bay, said she was enjoying being part of the effort to fight the Coronavirus and keep people safe:
"The Coronavirus has had such a massive impact, and I wanted to get involved in anything that could help get things back to normality.
"It's been great to meet so many people through the process, and talk people through getting their vaccine.
"Everyone has been so grateful to be receiving it, and I've enjoyed being able to put what I've learned at Fife College into practice.
"My dream job is to be a midwife, and I'm sure this will help me with my applications to university next year."
NHS Fife Director of Nursing, Janette Owens, said:
"The effect of COVID-19 on healthcare services is well-documented, however, it is important to recognise the considerable challenges the pandemic has brought about for our future nurses and other healthcare professionals, and their ability to gain the necessary skills and experience.
"The ongoing COVID-19 vaccination programme is unprecedented in its size and scale, and is moving at a quite incredible pace. With many thousands of local people getting vaccinated every week in Fife, this has provided a unique opportunity for healthcare students to gain useful practical experience in a fast-paced, clinical setting.
"In addition to supporting their learning, the students involved in the vaccination programme have made a particularly valuable contribution in the efforts to protect the local population against the effects of COVID-19."
Hazel Brannigan, the Academic and Quality lead for Care, Social Science & Education at Fife College said:
“When we heard NHS Fife were looking for people to help out with the vaccination scheme, we immediately suggested it to our healthcare students.
“Not only is it helping out in a vital process that will help protect lives, but it provides each of them with great experience of carrying out injections.
“We’re so proud of each of them, and are delighted to see Fife College students helping out in the local community.
“I have no doubt that this work will prove to be invaluable as they go on to university, and for when they eventually qualify in their chosen field."