Thousands of other volunteers in the UK could be used in patient-facing roles, such as St John Ambulance first aiders and patient advocates
St John Ambulance has now confirmed that it has been approached to be potentially training up its volunteers in order to administer a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.
Last month the rules over who is permitted give a vaccine in the country were extended to include allied healthcare professionals, independent nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists, pharmacists, as well as student doctors and nurses.
At the time, Matt Hancock, the UK’s Health Secretary, said: “These legal changes will help us in doing everything we can to make sure we are ready to roll out a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it has passed clinical trials and undergone rigorous checks by the regulator.”
This comes after a new US-developed vaccine has now been shown to be 94.5% effective at protecting people from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, according to interim results.
However, according to the Daily Mail that says that it has seen the leaked plans, they would allow volunteers with no previous medical experience to be trained to give the vaccines and potentially deal with any immediate adverse reactions.
It says the leaked documents suggest that the only criteria needed are that the volunteer be between the ages of 18 and 69 and have at least two or more A-levels or equivalent, as well as be at low risk of COVID-19 and be prepared to undergo a reference check.
The paper reports that the laws governing the administration of vaccinations in the UK have been amended further to include “people who are not registered healthcare professionals”.
Confirming that it had been asked to train extra vaccine volunteers, St John Ambulance chief operating officer Richard Lee said: “During the COVID-9 pandemic, St John volunteers have already given hundreds of thousands of hours of their time, supporting the NHS in caring for patients on board ambulances, in hospitals and as part of vital community projects such as this year’s seasonal flu vaccinations, and that work continues.”
This comes after speaking in his first interview with a broadcaster from the UK, Professor Ugur Sahin, the co-founder of the German firm BioNTech, had said that the first vaccines for COVID-19 could be rolled out to UK patients nationwide by mid-December.
He went on:
“St John Ambulance is proud to have been asked to support NHS staff in getting ready to deliver a COVID-19 vaccination programme when one becomes available.”
“Our role includes sourcing vaccinators within the new regulations set out by government and delivering official training from Public Health England, as well as recruiting many thousands more people in patient-facing support roles, such as patient advocates and first aiders at vaccination sites.”