Pacific students and faculty step up in vaccine distribution efforts

Student mixing a vaccine

Pacific students were paired with pharmacists to screen patients, mix the COVID-19 vaccine and administer shots to Tier 1 frontline healthcare workers

University of the Pacific student and faculty volunteers have answered the call to assist in helping distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.

Through a partnership with Walgreens, Pacific Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) students and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) students were paired with pharmacists to screen patients, mix the COVID-19 vaccine and administer shots to Tier 1 frontline healthcare workers and skilled nursing facility residents throughout Northern California.

"I volunteered because this was a great opportunity to bring visibility to our profession and to utilize my skill set to play a part in bringing an end to this pandemic," said Taylor Chan, a Pacific APPE student.

For their efforts, each student and faculty volunteer was classified as a Tier 1 worker and was eligible to receive the vaccine.

Veronica Bandy, Pacific pharmacy practice professor, sees this as a great opportunity for students to further their education as one of the most important parts of student training involves administering vaccines.

"Pharmacists play an important role in expanding public access to the vaccines. There are pharmacies on almost every street corner and that depth is vital,” explained Bandy. "Therefore, it is important for our students to get experience in educating the public about vaccines to provide them with the most up-to-date, evidence-based information."

Bandy is hopeful these students and the entire pharmacy community can play a role in convincing the vast majority of Americans to get the shots that she believes will put an end to the world's worst health crisis in a century.

"The only way we are going to bring an end to this pandemic is by vaccinating enough people to reach herd immunity," she said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic nearly three million people have tested positive for COVID-19 in California and there have been over 30,000 deaths due to the virus. As of the first week of January, intensive care unit demand in the San Joaquin County reached an all-time high of 175% in the county’s seven hospitals.

Pacific has been in touch with both San Francisco and San Joaquin county public health services regarding the university distributing the vaccine. The university’s San Francisco and Stockton campuses have specialized freezers for vaccine storage and trained dental and pharmacy faculty and students available to help distribute the vaccine.

"We are deeply aware of the alarming COVID-19 numbers in our three campus areas and with deep roots in the health sciences and as a community partner in each of these important regions we play an essential role in mitigating the spread of the virus," said Pacific Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria Pallavicini. "Pacific’s efforts in vaccine distribution exemplify the deep experiential learning that our students and faculty benefit from while serving our communities."