Miami nursing students get unexpected front-line work during COVID-19 vaccine efforts

Credit: scott kissell

Credit: scott kissell

Miami University student Rachel Edwards never imagined when she picked her nursing major she was also choosing to later be on the front lines of a global pandemic.

But Edwards now says she’s glad to be at the forefront in a new, statewide effort, helping by jabbing coronavirus vaccine injections into the arms of Miami staffers as part of recent push to inoculate college students as quickly as possible.

“I have never been part of anything like this,” said the sophomore, who along with nursing program classmates conducted dozens of vaccinations last week as part of the school’s student and staff immunization initiative to fight coronavirus.

“To be able to be a part of something that is going to start reducing it (pandemic) and bringing it to a close … is so exciting.”

Following the directives from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Miami and other universities across the state are scrambling to inoculate as many students as possible before they depart from campuses for summer break.

ExploreCollege COVID-19 vaccine clinics start this week

“It’s very rare that you get to do anything like a mass vaccination clinic for something that has been plaguing the whole world,” said Edwards.

And historic, said Stephanie Nicely, a Miami associate professor of nursing.

“No words can describe the weight of this experience for me. It was so emotional to see the students be part of a historical event,” Nicely said.

The State of Ohio has provided Miami with 1,000 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for employees and 3,500 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for students. All vaccines are provided at no charge to employees and students.

While the vaccine is voluntary and not required, the university has encouraged its employees and students to get vaccinated.

The majority of younger Ohio adults were ineligible until March 29, but now, depending on the specific vaccine maker, people in the state as young as 16 can get a shot.

“By offering vaccinations on college campuses we believe more students will opt to get the vaccine and they’ll get it with their peers,” DeWine said earlier this month when announcing the program.

Other duties for the Miami nursing students include registering participants and scheduling them for the second dose since the vaccines are of the two-dose variety. They also will monitor participants for any adverse reactions to the vaccine in the post-vaccination areas.

“Spring semester 2021 provided a rare and, what we hope to be, a once-in-a-lifetime event for our nursing students to work in a global pandemic,” Nicely said.

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