Covid-19 gives vet Lucy rare chance to treat people
Vets interact with people every day, as almost every animal you treat has at least one owner.
It is very rare, however, for vets to treat people – that’s a doctor thing. So it’s been an absolutely fascinating experience for me to become a Covid-19 vaccinator and, for the first time in my career, be treating people.
I didn’t really think about it when I started the training, I just saw a need for volunteers who had experience giving vaccines. I vaccinate animals every day so I assumed my skill set would be applicable.
After the online Zoom meetings with a fabulous nurse – who taught me all about the vaccine storage and a lot about emotional support for people – four hours of CPR training and two hours of hands-on protocols training, I was finally given my clearance and log-in codes to begin giving the vaccine.
On my first day, I was welcomed into the team with open arms. Any help that can be given is greatly appreciated and everyone was upbeat and very friendly. There was a sense of urgency to keep everything moving, however, so little time to chat.
The doctors and nurses who had been vaccinating since January were like a well-oiled machine. They have an amazing ability to calm down the nervous people, oozing an air of total confidence whilst keeping the flow rates high. They make every person feel cared for and unrushed whilst moving through a staggering number of people every day. The organisation that has gone into this mammoth task is mind-boggling and yet high standards are met, cleanliness is strictly adhered to and it’s all done with a cheerful heart and a smile on their face.
There was a mixture of people who came through the clinic. Some were very excited to be getting vaccinated and just wanted it done as fast as possible. Others were needle-shy and tense, and needed a little time to feel comfortable. Some were laughing and joking with everyone and others were more serious and quiet. One lady came with flowers she had cut from her garden as a thank you to her vaccinator, which made everyone smile. The overwhelming feeling expressed by the people was of tremendous gratitude that Bermuda was starting to see a little light at the end of the dark Covid tunnel. I felt proud and humbled to be a very tiny part in this global solution.
After five hours of vaccinating I was totally exhausted. I asked the doctor next to me how long he had been working and he told me he had started at 7.30am and was due to finish at 2pm. But when the time came, he saw he was still needed and carried on until 5pm. He looked tired, but said he felt like he was doing something good for Bermuda and that kept him going.
What I have learnt from this experience is that doctors and vets share a lot of the same skill sets, we have a lot of the same knowledge, but treating people and animals comes with a huge amount responsibility and the pressures of that are different for us both. I cannot speak highly enough of the doctors and nurses working in the vaccine clinics. They are compassionate, efficient and show amazing teamwork. I will gladly continue to offer my services as long as they need me, so give me a wave when you go for your vaccine. I highly recommend it.
Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr. Lucy is also FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda