UConn students help administer COVID-19 vaccines

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With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines making its way across the country, students from the University of Connecticut’s School of Pharmacy are volunteering their time in helping to administer vaccines to those in need.  

“Students have to be certified to immunize,” Jess Dillion, an eighth-semester pharmacy major, said.  

In order for pharmacy students to be certified for immunization, they must take their P1 classes which is where students learn how to immunize.  

From there, the school of pharmacy at UConn submits paperwork to various hospitals to prove that pharmacy students are certified to administer vaccines. Once approved, pharmacy students sign up for times to immunize vaccines. Dillion said volunteers are supervised by a pharmacist when administering vaccines. 

Sites where students are volunteering include Yale-New Haven and the Hartford Convention Center. There are around one to two students volunteering eight hours per shift at any given location. As of this writing, around 20-30 students have volunteered. 

The university is also sponsoring vaccination sites through UConn Health which are located at Outpatient Pavilion in Farmington and One Royce Circle in Storrs. 

The volunteer program began last December when the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were launched. The university plans to continue the program into February and beyond. Over 306,000 shots have been given to individuals in Connecticut out of the nearly 493,000 distributed doses as of Jan. 23, according to the New York Times. Out of those shots, UConn students have administered an estimated 1,000 vaccines according to Dillion.  

Connecticut is currently in phase 1b of its vaccine rollout which allows people 75 and older to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated. Phase 1b also has plans for individuals aged 65-74 to schedule vaccine appointments in February. This is an expansion of Phase 1 which only included medical first responders, long-term care facility residents and healthcare workers.  

The state has plans for people with underlying health conditions and essential workers to schedule vaccine appointments by March. Workers that are eligible for vaccination include, but are not limited to, public transportation employees, grocery and pharmacy workers and first responders. 

It is not clear when all university students will be eligible to receive a vaccine. However, on Connecticut’s vaccine website, the state does plan to make vaccines available to the general public by the summer and fall of this year. According to NBC Connecticut, the state is planning on releasing details on Phase 1c in May and Phase 2 in June. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, side effects of taking the Moderna vaccine range from chills and tiredness to headaches. Similar side effects have been found in the Pfizer vaccine according to the Food and Drug Administration. The CDC advises anyone who has an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the Moderna vaccine not to get it. They also advise not to get a second dosage of the vaccine if allergies appear after the first dosage.    

To find out if you are eligible for a vaccine, consult with your doctor or visit Connecticut’s COVID-19 vaccine website for more information.  

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