New Meaning to Homeland Protection
I received a call from my local pharmacy, Gregg’s Pharmacy in Terra Alta, West Virginia, on the morning of January 6, 2021 asking if I was available to help organize a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for nearly 200 Board of Education employees in Preston County, West Virginia. This is something that I knew I would be participating in at some point in 2021, but I was not expecting that call just a few short weeks after the Emergency Use Authorizations of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Nevertheless, I jumped at the opportunity to help get kids back in school and to protect the very same teachers that helped me get to where I am today.
As a Preston County native myself, I am winding down my final professional year at West Virginia University (WVU) School of Pharmacy. I have no doubt that the thousands of student pharmacists across our country conducting Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotations this year have been impacted by COVID-19. However, if there is one thing this pandemic has taught us all, it is to adapt and to overcome— something that would be put to the test in less than 48 hours as we set out to begin our vaccination efforts.
Fortunately, I happened to know some stellar WVU School of Pharmacy professors and a few colleagues from my internship at Waterfront Family Pharmacy in Morgantown, WV, who were some of the only people in the country at that point in time that had participated in a public COVID-19 vaccination clinic. With the knowledge we had gained, a lot of planning and preparation, and the help of school nursing staff, school administration, and a few of my incredible WVU classmates, the first clinic was a huge success. In under three hours, pharmacist Thomas Henline, technician Nancy Kelley, and the rest of our team had vaccinated almost 200 public school employees. Over the subsequent weeks, we had the opportunity to return and vaccinate many more teachers, staff, and administrators. Currently, almost 300 school employees have completed both doses of the vaccine, and students have now returned to their classrooms for 4-day-a-week in-person instruction.
This entire experience has been incredibly humbling and rewarding. I have been left speechless numerous times by the joy and gratitude people have shown when receiving their vaccines – a small step toward ending this pandemic. It has been remarkable as a student pharmacist to be an integral part in the vaccine rollout, especially in my hometown. I will always be grateful for that call from Gregg’s Pharmacy. I have never been surer of my choice to become a community pharmacist!
Written by Kylie Park, PharmD Candidate, West Virginia University School of Pharmacy on behalf of Team CPESN West Virginia. Pictured are student pharmacists, Autumn Smith, MJ Braham, along with Kylie Park who assisted with the COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts in West Virginia.