Which Vaccine Would You Like Sir?

Never before have I so willingly sought a vaccination. Throughout my life I was either taken as a baby unsuspectingly by my mother or dragged there a little later in life with the promise of something afterwards.

Sometimes, as I am a member of a large family of children, I recall us all being lined up in the dining room while the doctor ran along the line with his syringe. He possibly dunked it in hot water as he went but I wasn’t watching. Not being the oldest made the wait and the experience even more painful.

In later life vaccination continued to be a punishment; for example an additional hardship and humiliation after sticking a garden fork in ones foot. Tetanus jab in the arm and penicillin in the backside. It never crossed my mind to ask for the sommelier with the menu and the last thing I wanted was to see it decanted or have a taster dose. Nor I did not need posh syringes to impress the people at the other tables.

I have not changed as I got older. I have resisted flu as an affront to my masculinity, my fitness, my good health and because if its ageist connotations. That was until this year when my wife dragged me to the surgery with the promise of something afterwards and subjected me not just to flu but pneumonia as well. A deep affront. There was no feel-good factor and I can’t say about the reward.

I have been forced to have others as well, like those before they would let me get on the plane for a holiday. But I have never felt the need of these affronts to my liberty. My consent has been forced under pain of some deprivation. I never believed I would get tetanus, or yellow fever nor have I ever seen anyone with it or green monkey disease for that matter.

But now I really wanted this Covid stuff, couldn’t wait to get there and what a brilliant feeling it is to have had it. But what a choice, what a decision.

 “The damage done by former friends, apparently for political purposes, is not only to sow doubt in Europe but around the rest of the world.”

Who would have thought that the outcome of the pandemic would be a changing of the world order by countries being bribed to get a vaccine. China is offering two on a diplomatic world tour. Mind you it could be a good vintage having been laid down for years before the pandemic!!

Russia has others which Germany appears to be promoting both by offering to manufacture and by thrashing the reputation of the English one with more than a little help from France. So serious is this damage that the injection of the oxford is actually making Germans feel ill. The nocebo effect.

But, sorry, I am not having something called sputnik in my arm. And what would the neighbours say? I am torn between two. The microbiological Lego of Pfizer suits my modernist tastes but I think the intellectual association of the Oxford will win the day.

The UK is second to Israel for percentage of the population vaccinated with an approved vaccine and we know from this massive confirmation that the Oxford version is very effective and safe.

The damage done to its reputation by former friends without scientific justification, apparently for political purposes is inexcusable. This has not only sown doubt in Europe but around the rest of the world to all the poorer countries which desperately need vaccination and who may now fear that they are being offered an inferior product even though it has been offered to them on an not for profit basis by a well-intentioned manufacturer.

Vaccinating and Saving Lives

I am a retired dental surgeon who withdrew from the Dental register for 2020 just before the pandemic. So when the vaccination programme was being planned for Folkestone I put my name forward for both centres to help with the vaccinations. The mass vaccination centre at the old Debenhams is run directly by the NHS – I cannot get my head around FOLCA The store has been bought by the District Council; marketing doesn’t seem to be strong point! – The Civic Centre is ‘private enterprise’ run by a group of doctors’ surgeries.

The first reply I received was the Civic Centre in the form of a long list of many hours of training requirement which I dutifully completed and produced 34 certificates to prove that I had taken the tests. I attended the induction day but fell at the last hurdle because I was not a registered dentist even though I had said so on my application. Sadly their governance did not allow me to vaccinate. So be it.

There have been many comments as to the appropriateness of some of the training requirements for vaccinators. As a dental surgeon, as a parent or grandparent one is always alert for signs of or the potential for abuse especially in relation to children. It is no harm to have a reminder that not everyone shares the same moral standards. The Safeguarding training was a useful refreshment.

Whether or not training in radicalisation is necessary for vaccinators is questionable also but I found it very interesting and informative. It is a subject I have not had to consider much. The time covering this subject had not been wasted.

One area from which we could all benefit would be to have easy access to a defibrillator.

For someone whose every day revolved around patients’ consent for treatment, training in this area and in the Mental Health Act was still revealing. Even after a professional and business life which involved a lot of time caring for the elderly and all the attendant issues, one cannot be reminded enough of the challenges of gaining consent when mental capacity is reduced. So once again the training was not wasted.

In the meantime the NHS contacted me with training requirements. I resubmitted my certificates. A few more hours of training and a few more tests were required and then ‘Classroom training’ for resuscitation and finally Injection Technique. After thirty six years of dentistry? You might ask. Luckily I had never been so off target to have injected someone in the arm so little bit of training did not go amiss.

We all hope never to be involved in actual resuscitation of a collapsed individual so refresher training is always essential. I always marvel at the knowledge of those who work on the front line in this area and feel inadequate when I attend this annual training. The knowledge of how to resuscitate the collapsed patient is essential and should be for the entire population. Some countries now require this as part of training for a driving licence.

Part of this knowledge is in the use of defibrillators. Many years ago in Channel Rotary we started a project to have defibrillators available in the community and to train as many local people as possible in their use. These machines are fully automated and guide the user all the way. Their use is essential if many collapsed patients are to have any chance of recovery.

Channel Rotary’s project was before its time but there now are programmes around the country where neighbours join together to purchase a defibrillator along with a coded safe for outdoor storage. Then when everyone has had training in resuscitation and access to the equipment which is available to all at all times, lives will be saved.

Perhaps having sown the seed here this is something we could build on?

Training in life saving techniques is not just about the heart, it involves the airway as well. How would you treat a choking relative? The training is invaluable.

A further area of increasing concern these days is allergies. There have been very few recorded serious reactions to any of the vaccines being used in the UK after seventeen million injections but all involved must be prepared. Training in the treatment of anaphylaxis is essential

The final part of preparation for a vaccinator is self-protection so a screening of other vaccinations is required. What might happen if a vaccinator sticks a used needle in themselves? One cannot be vaccinated against all possible infection but a lot of protection is available and essential, including Covid itself.

So now I am ready to vaccinate. The training along the way has been very worthwhile and much of it could be communicated widely. One area from which we could all benefit would be to have easy access to a defibrillator. Perhaps having sown the seed here this is something we could build on together?

If you have a desire to help in some way in the community, we have the experience, expertise and contacts to help. Contact us to explore your ideas => joe.sullivan@channelrotary.org.uk

Joe Sullivan.

If You Can be Anything! Be Kind

Bala Rao of Vinodhon Tandoori in Hythe with Elizabeth Gibson, Marshals’ Director

I had just read an email of thanks to everyone from a lady for the “awesome experience” and kindness at Debenhams this morning when she had her vaccination when my WhatsApp pinged. A message from Jill Stewart, one of our volunteers, arrived, tells of a surprise lunch for everyone at the Debenhams centre.

I didn’t get an invitation! But I am told it was delicious. Bala Rao very generously cooked forty lunches, chicken and vegetarian, for all the staff and volunteers. It is not the first time Mr Rao has made these very thoughtful gestures to Health Service workers in the District.

Life has been difficult for restaurateurs along with so many others over the last year yet it has not stopped acts of kindness like this. It is just part of the great spirit that is to be found in the vaccination centres. We are delighted to be part of it.


We simply open the door to geniuses and experts. The real heroes.

When I attended the first induction day at Debenhams I was amazed by the army of staff all in uniform who were preparing for their first day working in the mass vaccination centre. This was truly on a much larger scale than the Civic Centre which was already providing a highly valued service.

I attended another induction day for vaccinators last Friday and once again was amazed at the number of new recruits. Anyone who was marshalling on that day will have witnessed a transformation of the upper floor. Desks had been installed for administrators and ICT support staff who were helping to process and inform the new recruits.

This is just a snapshot of the behind the scenes work which has enabled the first fifteen million jabs to be delivered as promised. What we seen in Debenhams is just a little part of the whole programme which is now planning for even greater capacity. Across the country similar induction and training events were taking place.

It is scarcely a year since the first death from Covid-19. Who could have envisaged then that one year later the entire population would be cautiously emerging from lockdown to be vaccinated against a virus which we had scarcely heard of. From identifying the virus to creating a vaccine, manufacturing it to scale and planning how it would be possible to have mass vaccination of the entire population of the UK; let alone of the world was an unbelievable task.

But the plan has worked and there is not one of us who is not humbled to be part of it. We have felt how much it means to be a volunteer; to be a useful part of our community again and we see what it means to all who are vaccinated.

It felt so unfair to be recognised in the way we were on Saturday on the radio. One feels like an imposter to be regarded as a hero just because we are privileged to stand at the front door and guide people to have the life-saving treatment designed and planned every step of the way by geniuses and experts who are the real heroes. We in Rotary are humbled by the opportunity to enable so many to be part of this historic national achievement.

On behalf of Derek Harris, Bill Flavell and Terry Cooke-Davies and myself, the organising team, thank you. We represent the two Folkestone Rotary clubs. Keep up the good work. You will be needed for a long time yet. We have been tested in our little contribution by extremes of weather but spring is coming with far greater promise than any spring in our lifetime.

Hero Of The Week by BBC Radio Kent

We are pleased to let you know that the two Folkestone Rotary Clubs have been nominated as Hero Of The Week by BBC Radio Kent.

This is for our support to the two Folkestone Vaccination Centres with Joe Sullivan, Derek Harris and Bill Flavell of Channel Rotary and Terry-Cook Davies of Folkestone Rotary to the fore, supported by a great team of Rotarians and local volunteer marshals.

Joe, will be interviewed on tomorrow’s Pat Marsh Show at 8.50am. Please listen in if you can. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08jc06z

I’m a celebrity get me in here

I saw in the papers that some ‘celebrity’ bloke from the TV has been volunteering at a vaccination centre. What a saint! I rushed down to the Civic Centre in case I was missing something. Alas there was no camera crew or wall of paparazzi by the gate so I guessed that there was nobody of importance there.

But there might have been. I went to have a closer look. In the icy wind of Tuesday all the volunteers had barely one eye exposed which they alternated to prevent it becoming colder than the Pfizer vaccine.

I peered into the eye and asked ‘are you a celebrity’. My reception was rather chilly to say the least with language which even muffled by thick layers of wool was still intelligible and heated the social distance.

I slid from one volunteer to the next but was staggered by the reception. I quickly left feeling not wanted, no celebs for me here as far as I could ascertain so I beat a retreat. Don’t want to be hanging around here in the icy wind and snow for three hours with these ordinary marshals, so off to Debenhams for me.

Alas no camera crew here either. Once again peering our from their mountains of wool, one-eyed ordinary people; how disappointing. Do we need a better class of marshal I ask myself. How do we expect the public to be encouraged to have their vaccine.

Inside was a bit warmer. No moving mountains of wool but still I couldn’t identify anyone because they were all hiding behind their facemasks. Sorry volunteers, but you all look the same to me. There must be some very eagle eyed journalists out there to be able to spot the celebrities turning up. I am worried about the competition though. All our clients could be attracted to a far better class of centre.

There must be so many celebs who are deprived of attention right now to recruit a whole centre from. A few TV doctors to do the jabs, cops questioning for consent, nurses from Holby and some proper big name celebs to marshal. We could have the odd TV pathologist hovering over the vaccinators just for fun! Matt Hancock would be delighted. The national vaccination figures would shoot up.

The problem is how to get the camera crews to come. Do you think some celeb might leak their altruism to the press. God forbid. Having to wear a facemask for these people must be like lockdown for the rest of us.

What a shame that the very unique spirit of a vaccination centre made of the generosity of spirit of volunteers and the relief felt by those being vaccinated is now to be destroyed by lonely celebrities seeking to feed their starved egos.

Channel Rotary Folkestone Charity Golf Day – 14th May 2021

Channel Rotary’s Annual Charity Golf Day will be held at Sene Valley Golf Club on 14th May 2021.

With teams of 4 players, the competition will be played in either 2-ball or 4-ball format, to meet national guidelines at the time.

Come and join us in support of our Local Charities, who desperately need help in these challenging times.

Please put the date in your diary – Entry details to follow.

Contact is: mike.simmonds@channelrotary.org.uk

#channelrotary #channelrotaryfolkestone #rotary #golf #channelrotarygolf #folkestone #hythe #dover #romneymarsh

How else can we work together for our community?

We would like to build on the great community spirit which has brought so many to offer to help the vaccination programme. Over 300 quickly volunteered, and we know from the many messages received how much it means to you and how keen many are to be even more involved in helping our community.

So, we have been thinking about how to build on this ambition and community spirit. To begin with we thought we should try to discover what your ideas are.

How would you like to get involved in the local community, and what would you like to achieve?

What skills could you bring? How could we draw skills and ideas together to make things happen?

Our idea is not necessarily for one large group but perhaps a number of smaller groups, perhaps each dedicated to a particular cause.

What kind of projects would interest you to be involved in? We have listed a few broad areas below, but what have we missed? What could your innovative ideas achieve?

Helping youth




Ideas to help the environment.

We are simply seeking to enable volunteers to achieve their goals of helping in the community, without necessarily any affiliation to a formal organisation. We can help assist in facilitating contacts and setting up groups in much the same way we helped set up the volunteer system which has brought us all together.

If you have the ambition to help your local community or any ideas of the type outlined above, please leave a comment with your name – at the bottom of this page – or email your thoughts to howard.cocker@channelrotary.org.uk

The next step may then be to draw together groups of volunteers with similar interests, perhaps via a Zoom call or similar, to see how any ideas can be evolved and brought to fruition.

Killing it with kindness

I had a call the other day form a volunteer who wanted to tell me how much he enjoyed the experience of being a marshal and the whole atmosphere of the vaccination centre. He was buzzing with excitement. Then he told me that he had been vaccinated that day.

I have written previously about the placebo effect and am not suggesting for one moment that the vaccine is one. But from personal experience and from observing so many who have been vaccinated, the effect is powerful. The immediate feeling of wellbeing and freedom is striking. There can be little doubt that this feeling influences the effectiveness of the vaccine preparing the body to make antibodies.

A placebo is an exact replica of a pill or medication in appearance but made of an inert substance. In drug trials it is administered as a double blind test; neither the doctor nor the patient knows whether the pill is the real drug or the fake.

Suppose you are part of a trial and given a placebo which requires you to take just one tablet every morning. Each morning as you rush about normal chores you quickly grab the pill and swallow it without too much thought. No act of commitment or ritual to it. A simple momentary interruption in the normal ritual but after some days or weeks you are cured. You believed in the drug so subconsciously something profound has been happening in your physiology. A few seconds each morning as you took the pill confirmed that belief.

This placebo effect is intriguing. In recent years fewer drugs have proven successful in clinical trials because of changes to the method of use of placebos. Sometimes the effect so powerful that there may be little difference between it and the curative effect of the real medication being trialled.

This is because another dimension has been added to trials. One group of patients, receiving either placebo or real pill, is administered by an abrupt doctor who just tells them the facts and directions without emotion or empathy.

The other group is treated by a caring empathetic doctor who gives guidance and supportive advice about their condition. In such a test the placebo is even more effective.

So if the doctor who gave your pill three weeks ago was kind and caring, that single act of kindness is still working at an even deeper level within you, intensifying the momentary act each day of taking the pill.

There is however another dimension; the nocebo effect. This means that if the doctor giving a medication says that it will have unpleasant side effects, it is more likely to have them. Before being vaccinated we are warned of minor side effects which are common. But if a reaction to the vaccine injection is a sign of it working, perhaps even now the nocebo effect is a positive one.

Everyone who has been present at a vaccination centre recounts what a great feeling there is. Patients, marshals, doctors and nurses and of course those being vaccinated. It is the perfect environment for care and of course the ‘drug’ it is not a placebo. No wonder it is over 90% effective. Everyone present is adding a little bit to the power of the vaccination programme.

This deep feeling of kindness and hope must have a lasting effect on everyone present and on our community. How can we build on this?