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We celebrate V Day

Students celebrating post-vaccination
Throughout the pandemic, National Star has remained open to meet the needs of students and residents.

Every week, the charity uses more than 8,500 face masks and completes more than 3,500 coronavirus Lateral Flow and PCR tests. National Star has gone above and beyond government guidance to keep those in our care safe and well.

Many students and residents are clinically extremely vulnerable, so when the vaccine was announced, National Star swung into action. National Star’s senior managers, parents and students, including the president of the Student Union, Elliot, started lobbying MPs and NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups so that we could get people vaccinated as soon as possible.

National Star’s college GP, Dr Iain Jarvis, was determined that all students receive the vaccine. By vaccinating every student, it would enable the college to move a step closer to normality and ensure all students, including those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, had access to a broader range of learning and therapies.

All available resources were utilised to ensure vaccination day was a success, including voluntary help from Parent Governor Dr Lara Rowlands, who assisted with the vaccination rollout.

Preparing for Vaccination Day

V Day at National Star was 28 January. Staff had just a week’s notice to prepare the students and plan what was a massive logistical challenge.

The vaccination teams visited National Star’s 12 residences while a separate ‘drive–through’ vaccine centre was set up at Ullenwood for the 70–plus day students from Ullenwood and Hereford.

Having a vaccination makes many of us anxious. For students with learning difficulties and challenging behaviour it is even more daunting. The therapies team created social stories, which use symbols to describe an event or activity, about what was going to happen on vaccination day. Tutors and other learning programmes staff integrated material about the vaccinations into lessons and one–to–ones to reassure students and give them an opportunity to discuss their concerns.

In seven hours, just under 200 young people received their vaccinations.

‘The staff are amazing and we feel our son could not be in a safer place,’ said parent Louise Joslin, whose son Charlie is clinically extremely vulnerable.

‘National Star took on the battle of ensuring our special people were recognised as extremely vulnerable, quite rightly, and have been huge advocates championing their needs. I cried with relief when my son was vaccinated.’

A further second V Day was held on 2 March for students who could not make the first clinic and included students from National Star in Wales.

Plans are underway for students and residents to receive their second vaccination.

‘Having the vaccine was important because it is the start of new beginnings and we can all start making memories again,’ said student Katie.

‘I felt so relieved to be receiving the vaccine because now I feel I have more of a security against COVID–19.’

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