Comment

We’ve given our all in the COVID-19 response – but it’s not over yet

As the vaccination programme gets underway, nurses step up again in hospitals and the community

As the vaccination programme gets underway, nurses step up again in hospitals, care homes and the community

The past few weeks have been hugely important in the response to the pandemic in the UK.

Following promising preliminary results on three vaccines for COVID-19, we now have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine approved for use.

Nursing staff at the heart of the pandemic response

The past year has tested resilience to the limit. Nursing staff have been under tremendous pressure and have continued to deliver high quality, safe care for patients.

They have been at the heart of the response across

As the vaccination programme gets underway, nurses step up again in hospitals, care homes and the community

A pharmacy technician takes delivery of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccinations for Croydon University Hospital ​​​​​Picture: PA

The past few weeks have been hugely important in the response to the pandemic in the UK.

Following promising preliminary results on three vaccines for COVID-19, we now have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine approved for use.

Nursing staff at the heart of the pandemic response

The past year has tested resilience to the limit. Nursing staff have been under tremendous pressure and have continued to deliver high quality, safe care for patients.

They have been at the heart of the response across the whole of health and care.

Whether in hospitals, the community or in care homes, nursing staff have gone above and beyond anything they could have imagined at the start of the year.

Now, with the implementation of vaccination, they will once again be at the heart of the response.

Building confidence in the vaccination programme

Nursing staff already run the majority of the UK’s vaccination programmes and are well used to ensuring those who need a vaccination are able to get it.

The new programme will, however, be a massive undertaking. We know that we, as nursing staff, are widely trusted by the public and will have a crucial role to play in building public confidence in the COVID-19 immunisation programme, alongside administering the vaccine.

With millions of vaccines expected to be administered, it’s likely that nursing support workers, nursing associates, assistant practitioners and others may be called on to assist.

The RCN has made clear to the government and NHS leaders that everyone involved in administering the vaccine and supporting its overall delivery must be appropriately trained and supervised – and again nurses will be fundamental to this process.

Vaccine brings relief but there are still hard times to come

As this programme is likely to be implemented across a range of settings, it is going to add to pressures to ‘day-to-day’ services, so it is as important the resources are there to ensure they can continue, particularly as we head into the winter months.

Vaccinations will take place in GP practices, hospitals and care homes. There are also plans emerging for vaccination centres in large venues in the community. They will all be led, primarily, by nursing staff.

‘Everyone involved in administering the vaccine and supporting its delivery must be appropriately trained and supervised – and again nurses will be fundamental to this’

The news of the vaccine has helped to bring some light at the end of a challenging year, but we all know there are still be difficult times to come.

The whole of the health and care system still needs to be protected. Everyone must continue to follow the rules that have helped to protect so many, and continue to practise social distancing and wear face coverings.

People must still be cautious this Christmas

Even with the vaccine, these measures, along with increased testing, will be needed for some time to come.

It will be especially important over Christmas; families will need to continue to be cautious to avoid a return to the level of cases that has already put so much pressure on all nursing staff.

The past year – intended to be a celebration of the profession as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife – has been challenging for all of us.

With the news of the vaccine we’ve received a welcome boost – even if the end is not in sight, it is at least on the horizon.

View our COVID-19 resource centre

Further information


Helen Donovan is RCN professional lead for public health

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