VACCINE volunteers have been praised for their hard work during the pandemic.

Staff from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service Service have given thousands of hours to the Covid vaccination programme.

Now they are being celebrated as part of Volunteers Week.

Around 200 members of staff have given more than 20,000 hours at vaccination centres across Essex.

Ten members of staff have even trained to give vaccines themselves.

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Jayne Moore, Research and Development Officer in the Technical Services team at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service co-ordinates volunteers at the Chelmsford City Racecourse vaccination centre.

Jayne said: "I absolutely love it. I did it as a way of giving something back, but it has helped me so much too.

“I didn’t realise how much my mental health had been affected working from home in lockdown. I’m quite an outgoing person but being locked down was making me more insular. Doing something to help during the pandemic was massive for me.

“It’s been lovely helping the patients too. On one occasion, a man with learning difficulties had received a text about his appointment but didn’t understand it.

"He explained his wife used to do all that kind of thing for him but she had died in January and he started crying.

“I accompanied him through the whole process and he was so grateful at the end – moments like that just warm my heart.

“I would encourage anyone to get involved in volunteering – I will look for something else once we are out the other side of the pandemic.”