The atmosphere outside Oxford’s first Covid vaccine hub is jubilant.
The faces of the NHS and care workers filing out may be obscured by masks, but their eyes shine with a mix of joy and excitement as they declare: “This is marvellous!” “The people there are so friendly!” “It’s so efficient!”
This praise for our OUH colleagues managing the clinic at the Churchill Hospital comes unprompted from people who just had their first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Among them is Oxford Health’s senior dental officer, dentist Danni Grady.
“Our dental team was offered five places and I was put forward because I am a key member of the Community Dental general anaesthetic team,” she says.
Danni also manages the urgent care and out-of-hours dental services which have been under enormous pressure during the pandemic. She had no hesitation about having the vaccine.
“I am so pro-vaccine anyway! I am the dental link for the annual flu vaccination, and this year, I am proud to say, 94 per cent of our staff have had the flu jab.”
“I feel privileged to have the Covid vaccine so quickly,” she says. “I don’t expect it to change everything straight away but at work it will be good for the anxiety and worry to go away. It gives me confidence that I am not going to get sick and will be able to work and be with my family.”
As the vaccine roll-out proceeds, Danni is expecting both family life and work get easier. She has three children, so like many others, has had to juggle work and home schooling. In the first wave of the pandemic, Oxford Health’s dental services were, in Danni’s words “absolutely firefighting.”
“We will be under pressure to work through a big backlog of cases,” she says. “But fortunately there are some positives we can take from pandemic, too. For instance, we now realise that we can do oral health appointments remotely.”
At the clinic, Danni is greeted by our friendly OUH colleagues who are running Oxfordshire’s first Covid-19 vaccine clinic. After registration, Danni is led to her appointment with nurse practitioner Craig Walsh. After a few standard health check questions Danni gets her jab.
Craig instructs her rest for 15 minutes before leaving the clinic and there’s tea and biscuits on offer in the waiting area. She is also asked to book her booster appointment straight away.
Danni wants to know if Craig, as a vaccinator, gets the vaccine amongst the first, too. Turns out that he is taking part in a vaccine trial and doesn’t want to ‘unblind’ his trial jab.
“That is, I don’t know if I’ve had the vaccine or a placebo and I don’t want to undo my part in the trial,” he explains. It is worth noting that anyone taking part in a vaccine trial can ‘unblind’ and hence get the vaccine if they so wish.
Danni wants to specifically point out how efficient the booking system is. Once she was allocated a vaccine, she received a text message with a link to the booking system, and immediately after her appointment she received another text with a link to book her booster appointment for January.
Sipping her tea, she books it for January 4. Seven to 10 days after that she should have immunity against Covid.