Navy medic’s pride at taking part in vaccination drive

A Royal Navy medic has said taking part in the mass Covid-19 vaccination drive has been her “proudest moment”.

Lieutenant Lauren Hodges, the senior nursing officer from Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, is one of six naval personnel who have been deployed to a vaccination hub at Ashton Gate, the home of Bristol City FC.

The team is working alongside health staff at the mass immunisation centre to vaccinate NHS and key workers and people aged over 80.

Lt Hodges said: “This is probably my proudest moment – being part of a national effort to hopefully get ahead of Covid and get the country back to some form of normality.

“The set-up here is fantastic – really well-organised, especially given the size of the operation and the speed with which it has been set up.”

Leading Seaman Nicole Ellis, normally an operating theatre nurse at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital, said: “It’s a great feeling to be part of a national effort and part of history. We’ve helped deliver the vaccine to all these people – and they’re very happy to receive it. They feel that they can move on a bit with their lives.”

The team was provided training for the role last week and also met Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he visited the facility which has been providing the jab to about 800 people a day since Tuesday.

Surgeon Lieutenant Ryan Dodd, who works in the sickbay at engineering training establishment HMS Sultan in Gosport, was at sea for most of 2020 and found it frustrating he could not play a part in tackling the virus.

He said: “I cannot stress how happy I am to be helping – although I was doing my duty with the navy, it was hard to watch from the sidelines as friends and former colleagues were working hard through the pandemic.

“It’s great to be here, helping the NHS, supporting where we can, delivering vaccinations to those most in need as safely and efficiently as we can.”