WPCC Nursing students volunteer at COVID-19 vaccination clinic

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Jan. 30, 2021Nursing students at Western Piedmont Community College bravely volunteered at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic during the last two weeks of January as Burke County battles rising cases of the virus.

Nursing students and instructors pose in the Freedom High School vaccine clinic, wearing scrubs and masks.

(Front L-R) Students Aggie Beach, Caylon Johnson, Bea Hemmings and Lora Effler. Instructors Teresa Giese, Rebecca Schell and Michelle Bobo. (Back L-R) Students Tiffany Smith, Jada Houser, Caitlin Cozad, Kelsie Jarrell and Brittany Kimmer.

Forty-six first-year nursing students have assisted Burke County citizens by administering the vaccine. Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, Burke County Public Schools, Burke Emergency Management and Burke County Health Department are collaborating to provide vaccinations at the Freedom High School auxiliary gymnasium.

“The students did not hesitate when asked if they wanted to be part of a team administering vaccines to hopefully wipe out the COVID-19 pandemic,” Nursing Program Director Karen Pritchard said. “They are truly participating in history and have had truly positive encounters with the citizens of Burke County.”

The Burke County Health Department and Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge invited nursing students and instructors to participate. Students volunteered an average of two days a week at the clinic, and they plan to continue their efforts throughout the COVID-19 vaccination process. The time is counted toward students’ clinical hours for the nursing program.

Students learn to administer vaccinations within their first semester of the Nursing program at WPCC. Now in their second semester, volunteering at the COVID-19 vaccine clinic allows them to further their training and technique while being surrounded by other medical personnel from local agencies.

“We’re shown how to give injections in different ways, at various sites and with different amounts of medication,” said student Tiffany Smith. “Being able to come to the COVID-19 vaccine clinic gives us an opportunity to hone in our injection skills and be able to use our training from WPCC.”

Two nursing students in scrubs and masks look at a laptop at the clinic site.

Nursing students Caylon Johnson and Jada Houser file administrative work as part of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Freedom High School site.

This experience is not only practical for the Nursing program students. It is also emotional, according to student Caylon Johnson.

“We had a couple of them actually that came to tears when we gave them their immunizations, and they told us how thankful they were that we were here and how they had been waiting for this moment since the pandemic started,” Johnson said. “I was really honored to be a part of that experience. I think that, as students, it’s a phenomenal opportunity to really be a part of history.”

Johnson was even at the clinic when her grandfather came for his vaccination.

Information about COVID-19, including the vaccination process, can be found through the health department at burkenc.org/2472/Coronavirus-Disease-2019.

Learn more about the WPCC Nursing program at wpcc.edu/nursing/.