MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Most first-year pharmacy students get certified to administer vaccines, but this year that training is particularly handy during a pandemic.
“I think I’ve administered 150-ish vaccines so it’s been a lot of experience for sure,” said second-year pharmacy student Ceilia Bressler from Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
She is just one of upwards of 300 students helping to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers, staff and students on campus at UT Health Science Center.
“Being a part of this has been great because being able to talk to patients and kind of letting them know it is OK and because it’s something new doesn’t mean it has to be something scary,” said Bressler.
This isn’t the first time the state health department has turned to students to help in the fight against COVID-19.
In April WMC showed you how UT medical students were brought in to help with COVID-19 testing at Tiger Lane.
Fast forward nine months and the vaccination effort has been a bit more tricky.
“So it’s really everybody, all men on deck I guess you can say, all the players involved for being able to pull this off because again it’s so many moving parts,” said Chasity Shelton, PharmD.
Shelton is a professor of pharmacy and is helping to lead the student vaccine distribution effort.
She says the university has taken a unique approach by not only asking pharmacy and nursing students who are traditionally trained in vaccination, but also medical and dental students.
The students help in every step of the vaccination process including screening, administering the vaccine and observing patients for adverse reactions.
“It really has taken everyone in order to be able to meet the needs of the campus because again trying to vaccinate enough individuals as quickly as possible because of the storage requirements,” said Shelton.
The Pfizer vaccine must be kept in extremely cold conditions.
“So once it’s drawn up in the syringes it has six hours to sit there and after that six hours if it’s not in someone’s arm, it’s basically trash at that point,” said Bressler.
Faces like Celia’s you may see again because students are also expected to play a major role in the upcoming community vaccine distribution.
It’s also important to note that all of the students work as volunteers.