Farming Diary by Iain Richards, veterinary ecologist, Heversham:

I OFTEN write of the importance of active health planning for farms, and a key part of that is the use of vaccines to improve the health of farm animals.

So it is with some interest that I am now part of the team in the Westmorland Shopping Centre administering the coronavirus vaccine.

Some of you may have seen the little clip on Twitter where I was interviewed and felt the main difference was the absence of fur on my patients.

A further difference is the very small needle and how much softer human skin is in comparison to that of most animals.

I’ve seen a few folk I know, including some farmers, and there has been a bit of laughter asking if I’m going to thump them on the arm before sticking the needle in. A few hope that I don’t want to take their temperature.

My professional pride is there in aiming to make the injection as painless as possible. For the more obviously needle-shy people, I wait until after I have given it before telling them what my medical background is.

One of my old practice colleagues is doing some shifts as well, and it’s good that we can contribute to the success of the scheme. Being used to handling syringes and needles makes vets and vet nurses ideal extra hands when we need to get as many people vaccinated in as short a space of time as possible. An ideal way could be to line everyone up in a race and go along them with an automatic injector in the way we do cattle or sheep. However, this does need a more solid needle, so it might prove too uncomfortable!

The pharmacy staff are very careful with the storage of the vaccine. It’s the Oxford- AstraZeneca one and, once a bottle is broached, it has to be used within six hours; so the fridges are carefully monitored.

It’s a reminder that vaccines are sensitive to temperature and that having a dedicated, working, fridge is as vital on a farm as it is in this campaign.