Just the jab – pros become key workers in Covid vaccination programme

08/02/2021

Two PGA pros are playing key roles in the battle to combat COVID-19 by using the downtime caused by the lockdown to work in the nationwide vaccination programme.

Harriet Matthews, a PGA coach at Paultons Golf Centre, Hampshire, has returned home to live with her parents during lockdown and administers vaccinations at a clinic in the West Midlands.   

And Mark Boscott, the head PGA Professional at Tidworth Garrison Golf Club, Wiltshire, and owner of Magnus Golf, is a member of the admin support team at nearby Swindon Covid Centre.

Matthews, a Golf Foundation award winner for her work coaching youngsters, now finds herself dealing with people at the other end of the age spectrum who are most at risk from the disease.

“There were 300 of them today,” she said after getting home following a nine-and-a-half hour shift at a vaccination clinic in Balsall Common near Solihull.

“There were four us working in pairs and we have two minutes to treat each patient. In that time, we have to identify who they are, ask all the medical questions, vaccinate them and give follow-up advice. Then we have to log it on their files. – it’s very high pressure.”

The 26-year-old is no stranger to the medical world insomuch that there are several nurses and doctors in her family.

“They told me the NHS was crying out for help and volunteers,” she said, “and a friend and neighbour who works for the five local practices got me involved.

“I had Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) from my golf so it was easy for me to slip in. I said ‘yes’ on the Monday and started work on the Tuesday.”

Twenty-three hours of theory training and several more on the practical side later, Matthews was equipped to either help out with administration or vaccinate patients.

In that latter aspect, however, as yet she cannot fly solo.

“I’m not allowed to administer vaccinations on my own at the moment unless there’s a doctor in the room,” she explained. “I’m waiting to be signed off to do it on my own.”

Reflecting on the first vaccination she administered, Matthews recalled. “It was a nervy experience because it was way out of my comfort zone. But the more you do the easier it gets and it becomes second nature.

“It’s also very rewarding - I feel like I’m doing my bit for the cause and that I’m making a difference.”

Boscott, like Matthews, has become involved in the vaccination programme as the result of a friend’s influence.

“A friend is a GP practice manager and she asked or made me sign up to be one of the volunteers at the Swindon Covid Centre,” explained the 39-year-old father of two.

“I work two days a week helping the 12-strong team of nurses who do the jabbing. I work on the software that checks everyone in, make them feel at ease, then they get the jab and I tell them what to do after that.

“A lot of the skills I learned from working in the pro shop have been very helpful in working as an NHS volunteer. Knowing how to engage with people has really helped in making sure what is effectively a production line runs smoothly. It’s almost like signing people in for the monthly medal!

“Everyone is really receptive to the process. They want to know if they’re getting the Pfizer jab or the Oxford one.

“There’s a little bit of favouritism for the Oxford one but they get what we’ve got on the day. For some people it’s the first time they’ve been out of their house since last March.

“For those who have been shielding, fully isolating or are in their 80s, this has been their first trip out and they’re all really keen to talk to us. Even though it’s a 10-hour shift, you come out feeling like a superhero.”

 

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