North East Connected

First class finish for pharmacy student who helped with Covid vaccine rollout

A pharmacy student from Sunderland, who helped vaccinate thousands of housebound people during the coronavirus pandemic, says it is a “relief” to be graduating after a challenging but rewarding year.

When housebound vaccinations started in January this year, 22-year-old Rebecca Gair dedicated her weekends to help reach vulnerable patients across South Tyneside as well as housebound individuals and carers.

Buddying alongside the 22 community pharmacists, she helped organise housebound vaccination appointments, contact patients, perform pre-vaccine medical questionnaires and input information into the data systems as well as support patients throughout the vaccination process.

“It was an amazing opportunity and I felt very honoured to be involved in the project,” Rebecca said.

“I learnt a lot about how to interact with different patients and adjust my tone of voice and body language depending on the patient as each vaccination was an individual situation.

“I feel proud to be entering this career and hope to be involved in many projects like this in the future.”

Rebecca applied to the University of Sunderland in 2017, having been impressed by the reputation of its Pharmacy (MPharm) degree.

She is now one of thousands of students to be graduating from the University this week with celebrations taking place online.

Rebecca, who has achieved a First Class Honours, added: “It is a relief to be graduating and exciting to be moving on to the next part of my life. However, I am also sad to be leaving university as I have had the best time and met the most amazing people throughout the last four years.”

So, what is next for Rebecca?

“At the end of July, I am starting my foundation year, which is my final year of training before hopefully being registered as a pharmacist,” she said.

“I am hoping if the Covid vaccinations do become similar to the flu vaccine I am able to help with the rollout of the vaccines in the coming years.”

Charlotte Earl-Sinha is Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice at the University of Sunderland.

She said: “I am particularly proud of the fantastic work that has been carried out in the local community during the pandemic by Rebecca and some of our other students and graduates, helping to vaccinate those at high risk of Covid.

“She has played a pivotal role in ensuring that patients in our region continue to receive the best patient care possible in extremely challenging circumstances, and I have no doubt that she will continue to do so when she qualifies as a pharmacist.

“We all wish her the very best of luck for what lies ahead in what I am sure will be a long and successful career in the world of pharmacy.”

Kathryn Davison, Principal Lecturer and Team Leader of the Pharmacy Practice and Clinical Therapeutics team in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University, said: “All of our pharmacy students have faced a challenging year this year, with much of their teaching being conducted in a virtual format.

“The students have been required to work autonomously and be more focused on their studies than ever before and Rebecca’s academic success is testament to how she has worked hard throughout the pandemic.

“The added input she has provided into the vaccination programme in South Tyneside is not only to be commended but it is also an excellent example of the dedication and commitment she has shown to joining the profession.”

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