• Emilie Kemp

Part of national effort: Why SWOSU students help with COVID-19 vaccinations

Updated: Apr 6

Photo: Melissa Javorsky
Photo: Melissa Javorsky

By Emilie Kemp

For The Southwestern

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic back in 2020 and the following quarantine, the search for a vaccine developed quickly. Now, with the vaccine finally available, pharmacy and nursing students of SWOSU, along with others, are volunteering to help with the distribution - in and around Weatherford.

Dr. David Ralph, dean of the College of Pharmacy, talked about the work that students, professors, and other community members are doing for the vaccination clinics.

“The clinics have involved so many people and areas of the community, county, and campus,” Ralph said. “Pharmacy has faculty and students who are certified to immunize giving injections while other faculty, staff, and students are volunteering for patient intake and data entry tasks. Nursing faculty and students are giving injections and assisting with other responsibilities.”

The work done by the students at the clinic is by volunteer only; they do not receive any credit for classes for helping. However, the College of Pharmacy does require a certain number of hours spent doing non-curricular activities during the four years they are in the program.

“Some students are using the clinic to meet this requirement, but the vast majority are volunteering because, as a health professional, they want to be a part of the vaccination effort,” Ralph said. “I am so proud of SWOSU. The university administration did not hesitate to

support these clinics. We are so fortunate to have the trained health professionals from Pharmacy, Nursing, & Allied Health here at SWOSU who can provide the manpower needed to make the clinics possible.”

Leaanne Hume from the School of Nursing is also aiding in the COVID-19 clinic and praised the volunteers and their hard work.

“As a university, we are blessed with abundant resources and very generous volunteers,” Hume said. “Many of our volunteers come from the School of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences and the College of Pharmacy, but all departments of the university have been represented at the clinic.

“I would say that as long as we have awesome volunteers, we will continue to host clinics until everyone is vaccinated,” Hume continued. “SWOSU faculty are also involved in other COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Taloga, Cheyenne, and Clinton.”

Pharmacy students Madison Thelen and Brianne Kirchgessner volunteer at the clinic and talked about their experiences there.

“Immunizations have always been a strong passion of mine, so I have always tried to volunteer for any vaccine clinics.” Thelen said. “When I found out about the COVID clinics, I knew I wanted to help in any way I could, so I started volunteering at as many clinics as I could. This past year with the pandemic has been difficult for everyone, so I want to do my part to help get things back to normal as quickly as possible for everyone.”

Kirchgessner also has a passion for the vaccination clinic. “I decided to volunteer because I know so many who have lost so much during this pandemic. I want to do anything I can to get life for everyone back to ‘normal.’ I have the ability to make a huge impact in the fight against COVID, I would not let that opportunity pass me by."

“I volunteer every Friday, all day,” she added. “I have also helped the clinics in Clinton as well.”

Anyone can help at the clinics if they join the Medical Reserve Corp of Oklahoma, which will take them through a couple of training courses online. Then, they will be able to work the parking lot, help with check-in, and help patients with their paperwork.

There is a clinic every Monday in Clinton, every Wednesday in Taloga, and every Friday at the PCEC in Weatherford.

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