Royal Navy joins the frontlines in Portsmouth in delivering Covid booster jabs
ROYAL Navy sailors from across Portsmouth have become the latest military heroes mobilised as part of the battle to boost residents against Covid-19.
Four sailors from the Senior Service joined their colleagues in the British Army and RAF on Thursday in delivering jabs to dozens of people at St James’ Hospital, in Milton.
The men are the latest personnel deployed as part of an immense national effort to get 20 million people boosted against the Covid-19 Omicron variant.
So far, medics, military personnel and volunteers have delivered almost a million booster jabs across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight - bringing the area’s total vaccine and booster count to 3.6m.
After a day of training, the team of navy sailors took to the vaccination frontlines, delivering Moderna inoculations to residents.
Petty Officer (Catering Services) Rod Morton, who is normally based at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, was among the team joining the fight.
Speaking of his pride in being part of the campaign, the 55-year-old said: ‘This is right up there with the best of them. Everyone is pulling together and helping each other out.
‘In a weird way, I’m quite excited about it. It’s something out of the norm and a new skill to be learned. It’s great to help out the NHS.’
Petty Officer (Physical Trainer) Tom Monday can normally be found keeping sailors fit and active at HMS Temeraire in Portsmouth.
But the 32-year-old was eager to play his part in the vaccination campaign and said: ‘This is a great feeling. I normally work in a gym so this is a lot different to what I’m used to but I’ll do what I can.’
Guiding the four sailors through their training was Falklands and Gulf War naval veteran, Lieutenant Commander Alan Dobson.
The 62-year-old, who now works in the NHS as a clinical educator - having previously been involved in the navy’s nursing service for 20 years, was delighted to see more sailors supporting the vaccination effort.
‘It’s such a privilege to be able to help them and contribute their skills to this effort across the country,’ he said. ‘But it is nostalgic speaking to these guys about life on board ship and what my role was as a “doc” on board ships.’
Speaking of playing his part in the vaccination effort, Alan added: ‘It’s an incredibly humbling experience. I was looking at retiring when I was asked to be part of this. I knew that I just could not not be involved in this’
The team of four new vaccinators are expected to deliver approximately 50 vaccines every hour - and hundreds a day.
They join a huge workforce of some 100 vaccinators, staff and volunteers helping to deliver jabs into people’s arms.
There has been a slight lull in numbers coming through over the festive period.
However, Stephanie Clark, senior clinical lead for Solent mass vaccination programme, said her team was ready to ‘ramp things up’ in the New Year, working later and harder to inoculate more people.
Speaking of the navy’s involvement, she added: ‘It’s amazing working with our military forces and personnel. We worked with them right at the beginning of the programme. So to now have them back with us again has been so important.’
Adults over the age of 16 can walk in and get their jabs between 8am and 3pm on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and 8am to 8pm on January 2 onwards.
Children must book on the NHS website in advance to receive a jab.