WSCC Health Science students hold in-house COVID-19 vaccine clinic

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Wallace State Community College Nursing student Jayla Crawford, left, receives her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from fellow student Mayci Hollis, right, Friday morning. The school hosted an Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) Satellite Clinic at its School of Nursing and Center for Science, where 250 vaccines were administered by health science students and instructors to their peers. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

Updated 2-5-21 at 3:31 p.m.

HANCEVILLE, Ala. –  There were smiles all around Friday morning on the campus of Wallace State Community College (WSCC) as health science  students and instructors received their first doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. The school hosted an Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) Satellite Clinic at its School of Nursing and Center for Science, where 250 vaccines were administered by health science students and instructors to their peers.

WSCC Vice President for Instruction and Dean of Health Sciences Lisa German explained, “We are a mini clinic through the Alabama Department of Public Health, and this one is targeted for our health science faculty and students. It’s been good.”

The clinic was set up to meet all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines with temperature checks upon entry and adherence to mask wearing and social distancing. The vaccines were not mandated.

“In a month, we will have the same setup for the folks who received it today to come back and receive their second dosing,” German said. “CRMC (Cullman Regional) has notified us that we can work in conjunction with them to provide access to the vaccine for our remaining employees, but that is through CRMC.”

WSCC has 17 health care programs on campus, and although the nursing students organized the mini clinic, volunteers from throughout the programs came out Friday to lend a hand.

Added German, “Doing the injections are our nursing students and faculty, and faculty volunteers are overseeing that process. These students have all been checked off and they were re-checked off before this because this vaccine is a little different. You handle it a little differently. It is a good experience for our students and also a good community outreach.”

“We are so excited! We are very excited!”

Those were Deborah “Pepper” Hoover’s feelings about Friday’s clinic. Hoover, director of nursing education, said, “Vice President German and I have been plotting since December when it came out that health science students were in group 1a (of Alabama’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Plan) and we knew they were eligible. They are back in clinicals so we really wanted to offer a way for them to be protected because we also feel if they are more comfortable, they can really be a help to these health care workers that are exhausted. They are going into clinicals and maybe they can be an extra set of hands to try to help these heroes, but we also need our students to be in clinicals to complete their education.”

WSCC President Dr. Vicki Karolewics visited the students and instructors Friday morning during the clinic.

“I am grateful that they were put at the top of the list, and it makes common sense that they would be. I am grateful because they are first-line/frontline workers even if they are in a clinical environment, and it’s only right that they be vaccinated,” she said. “It’s the beginning of the end, hopefully. This past year, I think we have all had a tremendous sense of helplessness. Here we are having to do our very best dealing with a pandemic that we have spent years trying to anticipate, plan and prepare for. Yet, (we were) not prepared for the emotional impact of it. The feeling of gratitude today… I am grateful that the president was able to get emergency use vaccine and was able to get it out to the public so that we can save lives.”

The WSCC Department of Nursing Education is designated as a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing (NLN). It is one of only 17 programs across the nation to receive this designation for the years 2020-2025. They include nursing programs across the country and the academic spectrum of higher education in nursing as well as leading teaching hospitals and clinical sites. Currently, there are only four community colleges in the nation that have been designated by the NLN as Centers of Excellence.

Said Hoover, “We were first designated in 2016 and we were redesignated in 2020, so this is just part of our pursuit of excellence. We are just happy to do this. It was a prayer and a dream, and now the reality of today is so exciting to us. It’s working out. When you plan something, you never quite know, but ADPH has just said that they love the flow. We have the resources, so why wouldn’t we want to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem with the pandemic.”

A handful of other WSCC faculty and staff was also vaccinated at the clinic.

According to Assistant to the President for Cultural & External Affairs Kristen Holmes, “The clinic was set up for vaccinations for the Health Science division faculty and students. When scheduled individuals were unable to attend, vaccines were made available to other faculty and staff so that all 255 vaccines were utilized, and no dose was wasted. Once a vial is entered/opened it must be used within six hours.”

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com