UHSP COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics Further Community Vaccine Access
Published on 29 June 2021
As COVID-19 vaccine availability ramped up this spring, faculty from St. Louis College of Pharmacy at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis spearheaded an effort to create and host on-campus and off-site vaccine clinics which have played an important role in helping members of the St. Louis community gain greater access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Their efforts began in late January when faculty members brainstormed ways they could utilize their skills and those of their students to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals in the St. Louis area.
“We recognized what an extraordinary time this was for the pharmacy profession and what a critical role we could play in expanding vaccination efforts in our region,” said Brenda Gleason, B.S. ’97, Pharm.D., ’98, interim dean of St. Louis College of Pharmacy, assistant vice president of academic relations and professor of pharmacy practice. “With the administration of vaccines long being an important role of pharmacists, we also knew we had a significant pool of resources who would be able to serve as vaccinators, so we immediately began evaluating how we could deploy our manpower and make the greatest impact possible.”
In February, efforts to establish an on-campus COVID-19 vaccination clinic got underway. The University engaged in a partnership with Chris Geronsin, B.S, ‘77, and his team at Beverly Hills Pharmacy to collaborate on the on-campus clinics, and work quickly began to complete documentation to allow the University to become a vaccine administration site. Logistical efforts to transform the 2nd floor of the Recreation and Student Center into a vaccine clinic also began taking shape, and outreach to recruit student pharmacist volunteer vaccinators got rolling.
At the same time, pharmacy practice faculty members worked to ensure that students and fellow faculty members were prepared to immunize by offering vaccine refresher training sessions designed to review immunization technique, provide opportunities to practice injections and syringe use and answer questions related to vaccine technique.
Pharmacy practice faculty also offered the American Pharmacists Association Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery certificate training program to pharmacists on-campus and across the St. Louis area. Through their efforts, more than 40 pharmacists were certified, many of whom are University alumni and preceptors.
On Feb. 26, the University hosted its first on-campus COVID-19 vaccine clinic for eligible individuals, and 2,453 vaccine doses were provided through the campus clinics over the course of 12 weeks.
“The success of our onsite clinics was the result of an incredible team effort by our UHSP pharmacy practice faculty and students, our colleagues at Beverly Hills Pharmacy and members of the University’s operations and emergency management teams,” noted Gleason. “It was so amazing to collaborate on this meaningful initiative that I hope will be long remembered. It’s such an honor to be able to say that our institution contributed to the COVID-19 vaccination effort in this unique way.”
Faculty from the Department of Pharmacy Practice who played a key role in making the on-campus clinic a success included:
- Nicole Gattas, Pharm.D., FAPhA, BCPS, director of experiential education and professor of pharmacy practice
- Brenda Gleason, Brenda Gleason, B.S. ’97, Pharm.D., ’98, interim dean of St. Louis College of Pharmacy, assistant vice president of academic relations and professor of pharmacy practice
- Gloria Grice, Pharm.D., FNAP, BCPS, interim chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, professor of pharmacy practice and assistant dean of curriculum and assessment
- Michelle Jeon, Pharm.D., BCACP, assistant professor of pharmacy practice
- Rachel Kiehne, PGY2 pharmacy resident and clinical instructor
- Amy Tiemeier, B.S. ’01, Pharm.D. ’02, BCPS, director of community partnerships and associate director of experiential education, and associate professor of pharmacy practice
- Roxane Took, Pharm.D., BCACP, assistant professor of pharmacy practice
With individuals ages 12 and up now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, UHSP pharmacy practice faculty and students have continued to help members of the St. Louis community access vaccinations by taking the vaccine clinic on the road.
In recent weeks, the University has partnered with local high schools to bring mobile vaccine clinics directly into local communities. Area schools that have worked with the University to vaccinate their students and members of the community include Chaminade College Preparatory School, De Smet Jesuit High School, Normandy Schools Collaborative, Notre Dame High School, Sacred Heart Catholic School, St. John Vianney, St. Joseph’s Academy, St. Louis University High and St. Mary’s High School.
“As the COVID-19 vaccine became more readily accessible at more locations across the St. Louis area, we knew that people were seeking out the places closest to them to get their vaccine, so we decided why not make it as easy as possible for members of the community to get vaccinated by bringing the vaccines right to the places where they live,” explained Gloria Grice, Pharm.D., FNAP, BCPS, interim chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, professor of pharmacy practice and assistant dean of curriculum and assessment at UHSP. “Our mobile clinics have provided hundreds of middle and high school students, and their friends and family members, with direct access to the vaccine, and the response to this initiative has been very positive.”
Grice notes that both the on-campus and mobile clinics have served as an invaluable way for pharmacy students at UHSP to gain real-world experience during this historic time.
“Many of our students had not been vaccinators before these clinics began,” said Grice. “These clinics have not only offered our students the chance to gain lots of practice with vaccinating, but have also allowed them to try out other pharmacy roles they may not have had the chance to take on before. We are so proud of how our students have stepped up to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to help the University make a positive impact in our community and address this public health crisis. This is incredibly meaningful work that will hopefully make a lasting impression on them as they pursue their future careers.”