The Sun's Jabs Army branded 'key ingredient' in making Covid vaccine rollout a success, says NHS chief executive

THE Sun’s Jabs Army has been hailed as the “key ingredient” in making the NHS vaccination programme “one of the most successful in the world”.

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, thanked Sun readers for throwing their weight behind the vaccine blitz.

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He praised those who cheerfully answered the call to arms to help get Brits jabbed.

Sir Simon said: “Volunteers really are force multipliers and a key ingredient in why the NHS vaccination programme is one of the most successful in the world.

“So I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of everyone across the health service, to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the Sun and its readers for assembling a Jabs Army we can call on as we continue to expand the programme.

“The vaccination programme, the largest in the health service’s history, is making extraordinary progress thanks to the careful planning and hard work of NHS staff but also thanks to volunteers up and down the country who are providing invaluable support to nurses, doctors and other others who are delivering the life-saving jabs.”

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More than 50,000 readers signed up to staff vaccine centres and get as many people protected as possible.

They have been a huge part in getting the country back in business and out of lockdown.

Dedicated Brits took on two six-hour shifts a month at a jabs centre, working alongside NHS staff and other volunteers.

Call to arms – how MPs, celebs and big businesses backed our campaign

A HOST of celebs and politicians threw their weight behind Jabs Army as they praised kind-hearted Sun readers who signed up.

Their calls were led by Boris Johnson, who begged for volunteers to help 'return the country to normal life'.

The PM wrote personally to our readers, saying: "The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is a brilliant example of the power of collective action.

"It has already inspired companies and workplaces up and down the country to join the call to arms.

"So today, I call on everyone who has the time to join the legions of volunteers already signed up and to boost volunteer numbers further still."

Jeremy Clarkson urged Brits to get off the sofa and sign up to beat the lockdown blues.

He said: “Everyone is saying how bored they are. They’ve watched Netflix, gone through everything on the internet, read Google.

“Well let’s not be bored — let’s get off our bottoms and volunteer.”

His call was backed by a string of other celebs – including the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, who hailed our campaign as “fantastic”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock saluted Jabs Army as he addressed the nation in a No10 press briefing.

He said: "Come and be a part of it. The Sun’s Jabs Army is marching and helping the nation.”

GMB host Piers Morgan branded the campaign as "excellent".

While celebrities like Bear Grylls, Gordon Ramsay and Bake Off's Matt Lucas have also thrown their support behind the campaign.

Sir Simon heaped admiration on the readers eager to lend a hand, as he revealed a vaccination hub has opened at Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner in London.

He told the Health and Social Care Committee on the health and social care white paper yesterday: "This is a huge community mobilisation across the country and that speaks to the fact that part of the success with uptake here is that this is not just a medical exercise, this is also reaching in communities with community leaders and engaging people.

Volunteers up and down the country are providing invaluable support to nurses, doctors and others who are delivering the life-saving jabs.

"Whether that's in mosques or sports halls or rugby clubs or today, I'm pleased to say, Westminster Abbey where patients will now be vaccinated in Poets' Corner."

So far more than 22.5million first doses have been dished out, with over a million second doses given.

Last month the Health Secretary praised the "unbelievably brilliant" effort and enthusiasm that Jabs Army volunteers have shown in the fight against the deadly bug.

Across the country, a total of 2,500 vaccination centres have been manned by NHS staff, retired nurses and GPs.

Matt Hancock told a Downing Street press conference: "The Jabs Army marches on.

Safety Q&A

SAFETY for our Jabs Army volunteers is paramount.

Here we answer your questions about how you will be protected while working as a Steward Volunteer in a vaccine centre:

When I do my voluntary duty will I be safe from catching Covid?

Volunteer and patient safety is the NHS and Royal Voluntary Services’ top priority.

While is no upper age limit for volunteering but being a Steward Volunteer is a frontline role and is not for anyone who is in a medium or high-risk category. 

Team leaders will ensure volunteers have the correct equipment to keep them safe at all times and social distancing will be in place throughout volunteer shifts.

There are lots of other volunteering roles available on the website. 

Will I be asked to wear PPE?

Yes, the safety of volunteers is extremely important and you will be provided with appropriate PPE at the vaccination centres by your team leader.

Will I come in direct contact with patients?

One of the key jobs of our Steward Volunteers is to make sure people queuing up to receive their jabs are keeping to a safe social distance.

 This is also includes yourself, so, where possible you will be two metres away from patients and other volunteers.

What training will I be given?

You will be provided with a comprehensive ‘Getting You Started guide’ to explain everything that is required on site.

 As this is a non-clinical role, no specific training is required and once you arrive on site, team leaders will take you through a site introduction and briefing.

"And they’re doing an amazing job in helping everyone get the vaccines.

"The voluntary effort in getting the vaccine rollout has been unbelievably brilliant – the number of people that have come forward, and the enthusiasm that has been shown.

“I'm very grateful to everybody who has given up their time."

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