Navy medics vaccinate hundreds in Bristol hub

Royal Navy medics are delivering hundreds of vaccine jabs to people in the South West as part of the national effort to end the pandemic.

A six-strong team has been mobilised to vaccinate NHS and key workers and over-80-year-olds in the Bristol area, working side-by-side with health service colleagues at a mass immunisation centre.

The centre at Ashton Gate, home of Bristol City football club, is one of seven large-scale hubs established to deliver the vaccine in major concentrations of population.

The team of nurses, medical assistants and GPs has been drawn from across the Navy – ships, establishments and medics working in NHS hospitals.

Lieutenant Lauren Hodges is normally the senior nursing officer aboard new aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, ensuring that her shipmates have all the correct jabs, vaccines and precautions for wherever in the world they are sent.

“This is probably my proudest moment – being part of a national effort to hopefully get ahead of Covid and get the country back to some form of normality,” said Lauren, whose ship is affiliated with Bristol.

“The set up here is fantastic – really well organised, especially given the size of the operation and the speed with which it has been set up.”

It’s a great feeling to be part of a national effort and part of history. We’ve helped deliver the vaccine to all these people – and they feel that they can move on a bit with their lives

Leading Hand Nicole Ellis

Leading Hand Nicole Ellis, normally an operating theatre nurse at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital, added: “It’s a great feeling to be part of a national effort and part of history. We’ve helped deliver the vaccine to all these people – and they’re very happy to receive it. They feel that they can move on a bit with their lives.”

The team underwent training last week, met Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he visited the facility on Monday, and have been delivering vaccines since the centre opened its doors on Tuesday morning – jabbing roughly 800 people a day.

After immunising the priority cases, they’ll move on to delivering jabs to people over 70, then the over 65s. Once their work is done in Bristol, the team will move on to vaccinate people in the Taunton area.

Surgeon Lieutenant Ryan Dodd, who works in the sickbay at engineering training establishment HMS Sultan in Gosport, was at sea for most of 2020 and found it frustrating he could not help his civilian friends and counterparts tackling the virus.

“I cannot stress how happy I am to be helping – although I was doing my duty with the Navy, it was hard to watch from the sidelines as friends and former colleagues were working hard through the pandemic.

“It’s great to be here, helping the NHS, supporting where we can, delivering vaccinations to those most in need as safely and efficiently as we can.”