Sally Phelps, COVID Vaccinator in Bromley

Sally Phelps is a covid vaccinator working at the Bromley Civic Centre. She started work in the centre in March, having first trained at St Guys and Thomas’ Hospital. She also works as bank staff for the covid vaccination programme at Kings.

Here she talks about her experience working in Bromley.

Recollections from the past year

I didn’t have a health background at all. I had originally worked as a health and safety advisor for the prison and probation service for many years and was taking some time off. But I didn’t want to be at home doing nothing. When the pandemic started, it soon became evident that vaccinations were going to be the way out of this, and that they would need people to help. I looked online and saw they were recruiting for vaccinators. I applied, was accepted, and started training in January. I had given injections before, to a friend who had cancer, but I was still very nervous. I’m not from a clinical background, although I’m not the only one – there were dental assistants and pilots and train drivers being trained too.

When I started working, I felt like a bit of an imposter, and worried that I shouldn’t be there amongst all the clinical staff. I used to say I’m ‘just’ a vaccinator to patients when asked if I was a nurse. Now I feel I’ve earned the right to say, yes, I’m a vaccinator. I’m proud of what I’m doing.

Early on, it was mostly older people coming in. They were so appreciative. Some of them even brought boxes of biscuits, many cried with relief. They had been so scared before. Many had felt isolated and just wanted to talk.

I work with the most amazing people – I love what I’m doing

I work with the most amazing people. For the first time in my entire career of over 30 years, I love what I’m doing. I miss not going in on days off. Our matron Usha, who I met on the first day, is the most kind and considerate person there is. Every morning she tells us we are a family.

Paula is one of the nurses in charge, and I have learned so much from her. We all appreciate her teaching us, because we know we are being trained by the best. People who come to get vaccinated have told us how amazing the service is, how polished and efficient it all is.

I started to bake cakes for the team, and have brought one in every morning I worked. One morning they surprised me with flowers and an apron with the NHS rainbow on it! They told me I’m an NHS baker as well as a vaccinator!

Looking forward to more appreciation for our NHS people

I hope our NHS will continue like this, to continue to give the care they are known for. I hope all the nurses and doctors and support staff get the appreciation they rightly deserve. I hope people see the NHS for what it does, and respect and support that. 

Obviously, I don’t want the pandemic to continue, but I really do want to continue working with the NHS in some way. I work with such amazing people, such selfless people.