Thousands of volunteers with no medical background at all could be trained up to administer the coronavirus vaccine in a bid to deliver the Government’s mass immunisation plans.
St John Ambulance will be one of the organisations delivering training to those who sign up, a representative for the charity confirmed on Monday evening.
In plans leaked to the Daily Mail, St John Ambulance said future vaccine volunteers would “be trained to deliver the actual injection to patients”.
They would also have to “potentially react to any immediate adverse reactions”.
The only criteria is that the volunteer be between the age of 18 and 69, have at least two or more A-levels or equivalent, be at low risk of Covid-19 and be prepared to undergo a reference check.
In October, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended the Government introduce a new national protocol to allow non-medics to administer a future vaccine.
The law was amended last month to allow more healthcare workers – such as paramedics, physiotherapists or student doctors and nurses, as well as doctors and nurses working outside the NHS – to vaccinate.
This law has now been extended to include “people who are not registered healthcare professionals” to “safely administer a Covid-19 or influenza vaccine,” the Mail reported.
St John Ambulance’s chief operating officer, Richard Lee said: “During the Covid-19 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.”
He continued: “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.”
As well as vaccination volunteers, St John Ambulance is also recruiting “vaccination care volunteers”.
The role includes: “Supporting patients before or after their vaccination, providing reassurance and potentially dealing with medical emergencies.”
Like the vaccine volunteers, applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 69, be low risk of Covid-19 and undergo reference checks.
Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna have recently announced successful trials of their vaccine candidates, boosting hopes that a mass vaccination programme could be under way by early next year.