Student steps up to frontline of vaccination roll out

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

A student from the University of Nottingham has stepped up to support the roll out of the Covid-19 Vaccine to patients.

Jessica McMullen is a University of Nottingham PhD pharmacy student and an independent pharmacy prescriber at a GP surgery.

Jessica Mcmullen, PhD student and independent pharmacy prescriber

Jessica explains what it was like to be involved in her first Covid-19 vaccination clinic: “Just prior to the national announcement of the arrival of Pfizer’s COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 I was invited to register my interest as a pharmacist to help work at one of the vaccination sites across Nottingham. Due to my current role in the NHS, as an independent prescriber in general practice, they were able to fast track my application and necessary checks and indemnity. I was so excited by the arrival of the vaccine I signed up for a weekend shift straight away which I could fit around my PhD studies and general practice commitments.

The day before my first 12-hour shift, which I haven’t done in a long time, I was asked to attend the vaccination centre at the King’s Mill hospital, part of the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, for a run through of the protocols and procedures. At that point we were not sure how many pharmacists were available at the weekend but they assured me that there would be a resident pharmacist available throughout the day with access to the vaccine and associated supplies which were stored in the hospital’s pharmacy. In preparation for the shift I had to complete a number of online training modules specific to the COVID-19 vaccination. I have been vaccine trained for 5 years now and make sure that my immunisation, anaphylaxis and basic life support training is updated on an annual basis.

There was one clinic room in operation on the day and a pharmacist had to be present at all times in order for the vaccinations to be administered. Our main role was to ensure that the vaccine had been transferred from the ultra-low temperature freezer to the fridge 3 hours prior to use. Each vial had to be checked and accounted for and taken out of the fridge 10 minutes prior to reconstitution and keep out of direct light. We then had to do quantity and batch number checks throughout the reconstitution procedure, checking the quantity and quality of each individual syringe prepared. The correct timings needed to be recorded as the reconstituted vial must be used up within 6 hours. Needless to say we got through each vial in a matter of minutes, never mind hours, as the flow of patients kept coming.

The patients and staff were in good spirits, some patients even asking to have their picture taken whilst they were receiving the vaccine. For some, this was a keepsake of their experience in this significant moment in history and for others it was a way of encouraging their loved ones and carers to also get vaccinated. The excitement and gratitude was palpable and we experienced no serious side effects on the day after delivering nearly 250 doses. We actually ended up with an abundance of pharmacists compared to nurses so I was able to use my vaccination training to help deliver the vaccines alongside the nursing team. Meanwhile, the healthcare assistants, administration staff, security staff, medical and non-medical prescribers worked in the room next door completing the paperwork, signing the patient-specific directions (PSDs) and organising the flow of patients. It really was multi-disciplinary working at its best and a satisfying and buoyant day for all those involved and I am looking forward to another shift this weekend!”

Jessica is a great ambassador for the University and an example of how important Pharmacists are to the roll out of this vaccine. We’re very proud of the work she is doing and Jessica also demonstrates how PhD students can successfully combine research with their work as a registered health professional.
Dr Matthew Boyd, Associate Professor in Patient Safety and Pharmacy Practice at the University of Nottingham

Whilst the roll out of a vaccine for Covid-19 is incredibly positive news, until the situation more widely across the country changes, the University’s existing rules in terms of social distancing, face coverings, and hand washing will remain in place .


Story credits

More information is available Jessica McMullen on or Jane Icke, Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Science at the University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 5751,


Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager Science
Phone: 0115 7486462

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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