Karen Hampshire is a clinical educator and vaccinator at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
“It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The reaction from so many people has been one of gratitude, relief and an outpouring of emotion. We’ve seen so many people who have spent months and months isolating, their lives turned upside down by this awful virus. People who have suffered so much, losing friends and family members.
“At this organisation we really are one large family. For us to lose staff members ourselves has been traumatic and devastating.
“It’s no wonder that we have had so many people show such huge displays of emotion. People have cried on us and we too have cried with them. We have played a part in history and hearing the stories of patients that have brought the reality of the pandemic to life.
“We’ve had the joy of helping bring people a new hope for the future. We are not only protecting our staff, patients and volunteers but some of our closest partners too – the ambulance paramedics we work with, our mental health workers, care home staff, dentists, community pharmacists and funeral directors.
“Setting up the vaccine centre at the University Hospital of North Tees has been an enormous operation.
“We couldn’t have done it without the collective work of so many different staff across the organisation.
“We have set up an effective vaccine hub which has already protected so many. The challenge ahead of us has been immense.
“We have all been there for one another to offer support an advice. Together, we have been able to reassure people and dispel any myths people have heard. We really are vaccinating you to protect you against COVID-19 – it is perfectly safe and we aren’t injecting you with a microchip to follow your every move.”