Military personnel ‘proud and privileged’ to help with Covid booster programme

Members of the armed forces have spoken about life on the Covid front line as more than 1,000 are deployed across the UK to help deliver boosters.

William Janes
Thursday 23 December 2021 18:36
Members of the Armed Forces administer jabs at the vaccination centre at Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility in Motherwell, Scotland (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Members of the Armed Forces administer jabs at the vaccination centre at Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility in Motherwell, Scotland (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Military personnel deployed to help with the booster programme have spoken of the “fantastic” NHS staff they work alongside and their pride in taking part.

Around 1,300 members of the armed forces have been brought in to help deliver what the Prime Minister branded a “national mission” to combat a surge in Omicron cases.

Private Tia Walker, an Army Combat Medical Technician, was deployed to the St John’s vaccination centre in Preston with just 24 hours’ notice.

The 23-year-old said: “The NHS staff we’ve been working with have responded really well to us.

The NHS workers we’re with are absolutely fantastic. We’ve met some really resilient, amazing individuals

Flight Lieutenant Danielle Harper-Dixon

“We’re here to boost their numbers and while they’re feeling that the pressure is still on, there are more of us to help and switch out with them.

“Us being here means they can have that five-minute break and get a cup of tea. So I feel like I’m helping them and boosting their morale by being here alongside them and getting them through it.”

Flight Lieutenant Danielle Harper-Dixon, 35, was deployed to the Castle Mall shopping centre in Norwich.

Her team were told about their task on a Friday, trained over the weekend, and by Monday they were in Norwich dosing around 1,700 people a day.

She said: “The NHS workers we’re with are absolutely fantastic. We’ve met some really resilient, amazing individuals who are going through it day in, day out. It’s not an easy job, it’s stressful and tiring. Working amongst them makes you realise how difficult that job actually is.

“The response we’ve received as members of the armed forces has been amazing, too. Our NHS colleagues were so relieved when we arrived, we got a round of applause because we’re here to help. And the reception that we’ve had from the public has been brilliant. Everybody’s saying ‘thank you for your service’, it’s lovely to hear and really humbling.”

People seem to be extremely happy to get the booster closer to home

Flight Lieutenant Matthew Lomax

Like a lot of her team, she has had to cancel Christmas plans to be part of the booster effort. But she says it’s part of the job.

She said: “We’re all here for the main effort. And everybody’s, you know, putting their personal lives aside to make it happen. I feel really proud and privileged to be able to contribute.”

Flight Lieutenant Matthew Lomax was deployed to support the Covid vaccine effort as a military planner in Nottinghamshire.

Within 24 hours he had set up a new pop-up vaccine centre at Newark Showground and is now involved in the day-to-day running of the site.He said that working with the local community had been “amazingly positive”.He said: “The uptake has been fantastic. People seem to be extremely happy to get the booster closer to home without having to book.”But the work has also taken on a personal slant because of his family connections to the NHS.He added: “The NHS is important to me as my mum has been an NHS nurse for over 30 years, so to work with them and its staff is a great experience for me.“The way they have pivoted from one issue to another and worked a huge amount of hours throughout Covid has been incredible to see. It’s a privilege to work with the staff here and help in any way I can.” 

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in