A biomedical student from Teesside University has stepped up to join a team of national volunteers helping to support the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Kendra Hutchinson, who is completing the third year of her BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science in the University’s School of Health & Life Sciences, signed up as a NHS Volunteer Responder earlier this year.
She was keen to get involved further when a fresh appeal was recently made for support to deliver the COVID-19 vaccinations.
The call was made by the NHS and St John’s Ambulance for volunteers to fill a range of roles, from vaccinators to patient advocates and venue stewards, working alongside medical professionals.
Kendra, 36, from Ferryhill in County Durham, said:
“I volunteered as a first responder back in March during the lockdown. As a first responder volunteer I collected prescriptions and did shopping for vulnerable people.
“The day before the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved, I received an email from the NHS and St John’s Ambulance asking for further volunteers to help with the vaccination roll-out.
“Volunteers are sought for numerous roles, such as administering the vaccine and acting as a patient advocate to ensure the safety of patients. St John’s Ambulance are providing full training to give the vaccine to patients, as well as offering first aid and CPR training in case of medical emergency.”
“I wanted to volunteer as scientists, NHS and social care staff have worked extremely hard throughout this pandemic, caring for and providing future care for people. The least I can do is help with the mass vaccination programme.
“I shared how to get involved as a volunteer on Twitter and a BBC journalist spotted my tweet and sent me a private message asking if I would speak to BBC News about why I have volunteered. I was happy to be on the national news and explain the importance of the vaccine and to show how everyone can help.”
“I’m currently waiting for a DBS check before I start training at a St John’s Ambulance centre. I’m told it would be a local hub, but they are still organising the logistics of it.”
“I chose Teesside for my degree as it is accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science and I enjoyed my open day visit to the labs and was impressed with the wide range of people I spoke to. One of the graduate tutors at the time was a mature student and she inspired me to carry on with my dream.
“I have always wanted to be a medical doctor, but coming from a working-class family, I didn’t think it was possible when I left comprehensive school. I decided to study biomedical science and work in the lab, but once I began my studies and was starting to receive good grades, I realised after speaking to my lecturers that I could achieve anything I wanted to.
“My studies have enabled me to be able to apply for an accelerated medical degree once I have graduated and it has also given me an amazing knowledge of microbiology, biochemistry and anatomy. Most importantly my studies have given me the confidence to follow my dreams and be able to make a difference – even if it’s a small one.”