UHSP Siblings Among First to Distribute COVID-19 Vaccine

Published on 09 February 2021

As a pharmacy intern at a local hospital, P2 student Meg Smith was among the first student pharmacists in St. Louis to help administer COVID-19 vaccines to health care workers. Humbled by the opportunity to help those who have been working on the front lines, she jumped at the chance to work in the hospital’s vaccination clinic in December.

"It was an exciting experience because I was able to give back to health care providers who have already given so much for their communities, and those they care for,” Meg said. “I felt honored to be able to do my part to help during the pandemic.”

Meg completed special training before she was allowed to administer the COVID-19 vaccine under the direction of a certified pharmacy preceptor.

“As a pharmacy intern, I’ve learned the importance of being knowledgeable about the various jobs within our vaccination clinic,” Meg noted. “Whether it’s checking someone into the system or administering a shot, being able to help throughout the clinic allows the rest of our staff to be more nimble, and this has been especially true during the pandemic.”

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As the pandemic continues, Meg says she continues to apply skills she learned in the classroom in the real world.

“Our role as pharmacy interns has expanded because of COVID-19,” she stated. “If our coworkers get sick or are exposed then we have less people to help with other tasks such as sterile compounding in the IV room, so interns like myself are called upon to assist. These opportunities combined with having the chance to help provide a lifesaving vaccine during such a historic time have made my internship very memorable and allowed me to grow my pharmacy skills.”

Meg’s brother, P4 student Zach Smith, has also been working on the front lines to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents of long-term care facilities, police and firefighters as a pharmacy intern with a long-term care pharmacy.

“Having the knowledge and opportunity to help people during this difficult time has been both rewarding and challenging,” Zach added. “I have been focusing on learning to take time for myself while also balancing the desire to help others during the pandemic.”

When entering long-term care facilities, Zach puts on full personal protective equipment. Upon arrival, his work includes ensuring that each resident, or their power of attorney, has filled out the required paperwork and is informed about their decision to get vaccinated.siblings-among-first-distribute-covid19-vaccine-smith-zach.jpg

“For some of the more immunocompromised residents, we go directly into their rooms to complete the immunizations,” he said. “It’s rewarding to know that they are one step closer to hopefully seeing their families again.”

Recently, Zach has begun working to immunize first responders, including police and firefighters, in Missouri.

“Not only do first responders come into contact with a large number of people which puts them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, but they are also critical to ensuring other members of their community are safe,” he said. “If a fire department does not have enough firefighters to respond to a house fire because members of their team are sick or quarantined, that can put a lot of other people at risk. The impact of COVID-19 is far-reaching.”

Although this year has been tough, the Smith siblings acknowledge that the pandemic has further solidified their decision to pursue a career in pharmacy. Working on the front lines has provided them with hope for the future of the profession and allowed them to make a positive impact on patients and the community.

“Since the start of the pandemic, pharmacists have been on the front lines every day making an impact on patients,” Meg said. “I have been proud of what I have been able to do as a pharmacy intern during this difficult time, but I look forward to graduating and making an even greater impact on the lives of others as a pharmacist.”


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