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.

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