Immunization-certified Butler students volunteer to administer the COVID-19 vaccine

Butler pharmacy students have helped administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Graphic by Janet Lovera.

KATIE DEAN | STAFF REPORTER | kldean@butler.edu

Pharmacy students are putting their immunization skills to the test by administering the COVID-19 vaccine in hopes of slowly bringing the coronavirus pandemic to an end. Those who are immunization-certified through the American Pharmacists Association are now qualified to volunteer at various clinics and hospitals to assist in giving the vaccine to those individuals eligible in Phase 1

Kyla Maloney, a PharmD MBA and P3 student, has volunteered at St. Vincent Hospital administering the vaccine as a part of her institutional pharmacy practice experience within the Butler’s pharmacy program. She volunteered in the middle of January for around five days for six hours each day.

To prepare for inoculation, Maloney said she had to watch a few videos that explained more about the COVID-19 vaccine and how to administer it. There was also an option to shadow someone before administering the vaccine if necessary, though Maloney felt prepared enough to begin right away.

Maloney said the process of injecting patients was routine and quick; she would explain the potential side effects to the patients before administering the vaccine. Per CDC protocol, individuals had to wait in a separate room for 15 minutes after their shot to ensure they did not experience any adverse reactions. 

Maloney said the experience felt rewarding, as she was able to interact with many patients who live near Butler and put her skills to good use.

“All of the elderly population that came through just love to talk because you could tell that they hadn’t really had a ton of interaction with people, until they’re finally able to get their vaccine,” Maloney said. “It was all very nice to see everybody and give back to the community.”

The state of Indiana has a total of 736,000 doses currently available, and those who are healthcare workers, first responders, or 65 years or older can receive the vaccine. To find a location nearby, those who qualify can go to the Indiana State Department of Health and the site will provide a list of hospitals nearby and allow you to schedule an appointment. 

P3 pharmacy student Yaz Kadi also volunteered to administer vaccines at St. Vincent Hospital for his pre-professional experience in the pharmacy program. He said the hospital collectively vaccinated around 400 patients each day and used both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine.

Kadi said he made it a priority to ensure the patients were comfortable and that all their questions and concerns were answered before giving them the vaccine. During his six-hour shift, he and other volunteers would vaccinate about 12 people at a time.

“From my side, I just want to make sure that the patient is as comfortable as they can be,” Kadi said. “I know that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and there’s a lot of questions circulating around about it, so if I know the information I’m more than happy to give it to them.”

Aside from hospitals offering the vaccine, supermarkets including Walmarts, Meijers and Krogers in Indiana will also become vaccination sites. In addition, Walgreens also now offers the vaccine. Healthcare workers and elderly individuals can sign up directly on the independent sites.

P3 pharmacy student Margo Whitehead was also able to contribute to this undertaking by administering the COVID-19 vaccine at various clinics in Indiana and Ohio, since she is immunization-certified in both states. Whitehead said she would provide her availability and then be assigned a location to volunteer at.

Well-versed in giving various types of vaccines from her experience working at Walgreens as a technician and intern, Whitehead was more than prepared and excited to participate in this momentous effort.

“I’m really thankful that I was able to have this opportunity to help be an advocate for public health and safety,” Whitehead said. “I myself got the vaccine so I am definitely looking forward to a day where everyone is able to get vaccinated.”

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