St James' Hospital in Portsmouth reaches record jab numbers as 'fantastic' armed services members help with booster roll-out

ARMY volunteers have given a boost to the city’s vaccination centre as more than 1,500 people were jabbed in a single day.

Saturday, 18th December 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Saturday, 18th December 2021, 5:43 pm

St James’ Hospital in Milton gave a total of 1,550 jabs on Thursday, beating its previous record of 1,416 set earlier in the year, thanks to help from more than a dozen members of the army and RAF since the start of the week.

It brings the total number of vaccinations to more than 200,600 – with support from some soldiers who are returning to the area to help protect the community.

Dominic Wilson, who left his hometown of Gosport four years ago to become an army medic based in Aldershot, said it was great to return to the area to make a difference during the on-going pandemic.

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Major Mike Rawden preparing a dose of the vaccine at St James' Hospital, Portsmouth Picture: Habibur Rahman

The 20-year-old, based at 22 Field Hospital in Aldershot, said: ‘The response we have had back from the community has been extremely high and it’s been good being back.

‘It’s one of the rules of the armed forces to support the nation by any means necessary, whether it’s supporting the NHS, or disaster relief with flooding – that’s what we’re here to do.’

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NHS staff and patients alike were pleased to see the armed services supporting the booster roll-out, which is now available to anyone aged over 18 who has had their second vaccine dose at least three months ago.

20-year-old medic, Dominic Wilson. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Megan Sankey, clinical matron at St James’ Hospital, said NHS staff were ‘so, so grateful’ for the armed services’ support, which has allowed hospital to open up another vaccination pod onsite.

The Solent NHS Trust nurse said: ‘We are so, so grateful they have come in. We are so grateful for any support we can get.

‘It is very concerning seeing the cases surge but with this booster programme we have the ability to increase capacity.

She added: ‘Everyone here from the army are medics. The RAF are engineers – they wee fixing planes the day before they came in.

Shannon Janet Horrock giving Tatiana Carson a vaccine jab at the Hamble house vaccination centre, Portsmouth Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Everyone has gone through a thorough course on administering the booster.’

Patients praised the booster system as ‘quick’ and ‘easy’ – and were encouraging of armed services members being deployed to help the community more often.

Amanda Tremlett from Bedhampton said the army medics on site had been ‘fantastic’ and added: ‘I think it’s really nice and really encouraging that so many young people are involved.’

Sarah Ferroni from Surbiton added: ‘I think if this is what needs to happen to make people safe then it’s a good idea.

People queuing outside Hamble House vaccination centre, part of the St James' Hospital complex in Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘A lot of people I know have had Covid-19 – it’s horrible.

‘I know someone who is still in a coma – they had Covid-19 and were not vaccinated.

Addressing anyone who remains unvaccinated, she added: ‘Get it done.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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