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The last year has been a stressful time, as life has been put on hold for many of us due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel: the Covid-19 vaccine programme began on the island this year, bringing hope of return to some normality to many. Leading the team is Sam Kneen, who works as a vaccine coordinator.

Prior to managing the vaccination hub, Sam was a health visitor, working in the women and families team. She began her nursing training aged 25, after working a number of tourist and finance roles, and deciding that she needed a role that would allow a new challenge. After studying and working in the UK, Samantha returned to the Isle of Man, where she has worked in the Department of Health and Social Care ever since.

The Covid-19 vaccination programme is unprecedented in scale, but this isn’t Sam’s first rodeo. Last July, Sam was asked to project lead and co-ordinate the island’s first school seasonal flu vaccination programme, which was offered to the island’s 6000+ school aged children. As the programme came to an end, the skills and experience that she gained were transferred to the vaccination hub.

While Sam and all the team are incredibly skilled and knowledgeable, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t challenges to get the vaccine hub up and running. Sam, alongside her colleague, Sian Davies, who now leads the team vaccinating the especially vulnerable who are housebound or in care homes, started with a blank piece of paper and ended up getting the vaccine hub  up and running in a couple of months. Sam is keen to emphasise that she is just a “small cog in a very big machine”, and that there is a raft of “unseen and unsung heroes”. The team, which includes a huge amount of people in varied roles- from admin to logistics- have become a tight and cohesive team in a very short period of time. 

The vaccine hub is a fast paced environment, with change occurring constantly. It’s challenging, and keeps Sam on her toes. However, Sam also notes that it’s a “happy place to be”, with many people being excited and relieved to receive their vaccine. The best thing about the job, Sam notes, are the people- both her colleagues and patients. 

Sam is proud to be a nurse, and as a health visitor, she is proud to be in the biggest health protection programmes on the island (and, indeed, the world). For anyone considering a career in healthcare, she highlights that she doesn’t think there are many other careers that can offer as much job satisfaction, diversity, or opportunities, it’s never too late to learn.

Sam is one of many brilliant women working in health care. She is keen to note that, this International Women’s Day, you don’t need to look any further than the senior leadership team of DHSC to see that the island is ahead of the curve with inspirational and aspirational female leaders. 

As part of Gef’s International Women’s Day Series

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