Students at the Forefront of Jefferson’s Vaccination Effort

Along with administering vaccines, students help with community outreach.

With clinical staff in high demand at Jefferson Health, the need to staff vaccination sites with qualified individuals became imperative. That’s when students from the Jefferson College of Nursing, Sidney Kimmel Medical College and Jefferson College of Pharmacy sprang into action, logging more than 6,000 hours at vaccination sites to date.

Under the supervision of faculty volunteers, qualified students began rotating through vaccination sites back in December and have continued administering vaccines throughout the spring semester. Students also helped with Jefferson’s targeted outreach to eligible patient populations in the early phases before the vaccine became available to all.

Students assisted in vaccinating Jefferson employees and students as well as coordinating with local organizations that aimed to vaccinate more members of the public.

Watch Jefferson nursing and medical students work together on volunteer and training opportunities that support Jefferson in COVID relief, including vaccine administration:

Administrators of local hunger relief organization, Philabundance, grew frustrated as their nearly 80 employees tried to schedule their Group 1A vaccinations. Backed by Jefferson leadership, students assisted in vaccinating Philabundance staff at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Students also worked with Families Forward Philadelphia, the city’s largest family homeless shelter. As they met with case managers to administer vaccinations, shelter residents were hesitant to accept the vaccine, but the acceptance rate has since climbed nearly 25 percent. After 52 residents received vaccinations, 14 more residents signed up for theirs.

“The Jefferson students didn’t come in as students,” says Ceciley Bradford, the shelter’s chief operating officer. “They came in as professionals. They worked diligently to distribute a lifesaving vaccine to an underserved population.”

Among the volunteers was Sara Olyaei. The pharmacy doctoral student joined the COVID-19 vaccination response team at Centennial Pharmacy Services, located in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia. Here, she vaccinated more than 200 people.

The Jefferson students didn’t come in as students. They came in as professionals. They worked diligently to distribute a lifesaving vaccine to an underserved population.
–Ceciley Bradford, Families Forward Philadelphia Chief Operating Officer

Students have logged more than 6,000 hours at vaccination sites to date.
Jefferson students have logged more than 6,000 hours at vaccination sites to date.

“The most rewarding aspect of vaccinating patients is seeing the excitement on their faces after receiving their shots and knowing that I’m playing a vital role in helping to slow down and, ultimately, prevent the spread of COVID-19,” says Olyaei, who also counseled underserved patients on the effectiveness of vaccines.

Faculty continue to train medical students on administering vaccinations as the University works to vaccinate students for the upcoming fall semester.

“Jefferson students have been incredibly honored to share in the efforts to end this horrible pandemic, beginning by vaccinating other health care providers and, now, the greater public,” says Dr. Jennifer Bellot, associate dean of academic practice integration at Jefferson College of Nursing. “We have all sacrificed so much to COVID, and students’ efforts to vaccinate and curb its progression are an indispensable commodity to us all.”

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