The reception area at the College of Public Health on Temple’s campus hosted an eager group of visitors in February: hundreds of people arriving for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The improvised vaccine clinic allowed space for three socially distanced inoculation stations, where Temple student nurses, in masks and face shields, efficiently administered the shots to fellow students with clinical placements, educators, and frontline staff such as Temple police officers.
Around 900 people received their second shot over the course of three days, after getting their first doses in January. It was just one piece of the College of Public Health’s wider inoculation program that also has included vaccine clinics for community residents in underserved Philadelphia neighborhoods around the university.
“It shows how we can get vaccines to large numbers of the public in spaces that are relatively modest, using experienced student trainees, overseen and supplemented by faculty,” said Laura A. Siminoff, dean of the College of Public Health.
In the corridor outside the College of Public Health’s Dean's Office suite, nursing students and volunteers from the CPH staff and faculty screened and checked in a steady flow of people who had signed up for the vaccines, using a database system the college adapted for the task. Back near the reception desk, Joelle Hargraves, director of the undergraduate nursing program, worked with one nursing student at a time to carefully draw vaccine serum from Moderna vials into syringes, preparing doses for the other student nurses to administer.
“It’s awesome. It’s exciting to be part of history in a way,” said nursing student Alyssa Daniels. For the nursing students, the clinics have been a way to make up important hands-on training time, satisfying the clinical hours requirements of their nursing degree.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to give intramuscular injections,” said Barbara Little, a nursing instructor helping to supervise.
Once recipients received their vaccines, their next stop was into a conference room to have their CDC vaccination cards updated. They then headed back to the cubicle area, normally populated by administrative staff, for 15 minutes of post-vaccine observation. Afterward, a cleaning crew disinfected everything before anyone returned to work.
The College of Public Health, which receives its doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Temple University Health System, also has held vaccine clinics for staff and residents at the Philadelphia Housing Authority and at the College of Public Health’s Vaux Community Health Center, a nurse-managed primary care clinic in North Philadelphia.
“Many people are not members of large health systems, nor do they have a private physician,” Siminoff said. “The U.S. health system is so fractured, we have to use everything at our disposal to get the population vaccinated.”