Jenna Riley, a student in the University of Houston College of Nursing, is just days away from starting her clinical rotations— shadowing doctors and nurses, seeing patients and addressing real medical situations for the first time. It’s an exciting yet daunting prospect for any nursing student, let alone during a pandemic. The hospital where she’ll train has a myriad of safety protocols in place, of course, but now she has an extra layer of protection against the coronavirus.
It's definitely a relief."
Riley was the first person to roll up her Cougar Red sleeve to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the University’s first mass vaccination clinic, held over two days in March inside Student Center South. UH President Renu Khator even Tweeted a photo of Riley getting the inaugural shot.
“It’s definitely a relief,” said Riley, who also volunteered at the clinic to help others receive their shots. “Coming to UH is really a good experience because I go to school here, I was able to get a vaccine here and help my community.”
"I've been excited about it and ready to move on."
The University of Houston partnered with Walgreens to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 1,100 eligible faculty, staff and students in Texas’ 1A and 1B populations – frontline health care workers, people 65 years of age or older, and people 16 years of age or older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness. Priority was giving to those who are seeing patients as part of the University’s health-related professional programs, including the colleges of nursing, pharmacy, medicine, optometry, social work and others.
Sean Pugh, a master’s student at the Graduate College of Social Work, is doing his field placement at a Houston hospital, but until the UH mass vaccination event, he had been unable to get the vaccine. He now has his first dose.
“I’ve been excited about it and ready to move on,” he said. “I want to be able to not have to worry so much.” Pugh and the others who received their first vaccine dose are already scheduled to receive their second dose at UH.
The UH Student Health Center (SHC) is leading the on-campus vaccination effort. SHC became an approved vaccine distributor in January. The University received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine — 1,000 Moderna doses — from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in late February. Through the partnership with Walgreens, the University provides the vaccination space, organizes volunteers, manages the logistics and appointments, and Walgreens provides pharmacy team members to deliver the vaccine and complete the documentation necessary to meet state and federal vaccine requirements.
“With a number of faculty, staff and students serving as frontline health care workers, it was important to provide them an opportunity to receive the vaccine,” said Suzy Harrington, UH assistant vice president for student affairs health and well-being. “We are grateful to have a partnership between the Student Health Center and Walgreens to make this mass vaccination effort a reality.”
“This is a great first step in our efforts to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to campus."
Walgreens has been at the forefront of administering COVID-19 vaccines since they became available in December. Pharmacists and technicians have provided more than 4 million COVID-19 vaccinations across eligible populations.
The University of Houston continues to request vaccine from DSHS for distribution to eligible UH students, faculty and staff. Visit the UH COVID-19 Vaccine page for the latest on eligibility and availability of vaccine.
As the University receives more allocations of COVID-19 vaccine, future appointments are expected to become available. UH students and employees who meet current eligibility requirements can join the UH waitlist by completing the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Registration form.
“This is a great first step in our efforts to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to campus, and we are so thankful for the incredible collaboration to make it happen,” said Dr. Cheryl Person, interim executive director and chief physician at the UH Student Health Center.
“Making a difference in the health and health care of our community is central to our mission."
Not far away in Third Ward, faculty, staff and students from the UH College of Medicine are working to improve vaccine equity in underserved communities. Lone Star Circle of Care, a community partner of the UH College of Medicine, recently received 200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. UHCOM and LSCC joined forces to administer them at a community-based vaccination event at Holman Street Baptist Church.
“COVID-19 has been such a detriment to our community and to our nation. Our former church leader Manson B. Johnson II passed away from COVID-19 and so us taking the lead to host an event like this means a lot,” said Murray G. Martin, the new pastor of the church. “We appreciate Lone Star Circle of Care and the UH College of Medicine partnering with us on this, and we hope to take similar initiative on future events.”
LSCC is a federally qualified health center that operates 24 clinics across Texas, including the Lone Star Circle of Care at the University of Houston. The clinic is staffed by College of Medicine faculty and LSCC employees. It provides comprehensive primary care services, such as family medicine, pediatrics and integrated behavioral health to all patients regardless of their ability to pay.
“Making a difference in the health and health care of our community is central to our mission and there is no more urgent need right now than to distribute these vaccines efficiently and equitably among underserved populations in the Greater Houston Area,” said Dr. Omar Matuk-Villazon, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics and medical director at the LSCC UH clinic.
As for nursing student Jenna Riley, she’s eager to connect with her first patients with a bit more confidence now that she’s protected, and so are they.
“Many patients still don’t get to have their family members around, so it’s the nurses who have a lot of one-on-one time with them and that’s important,” said Riley.
Special Thanks to:
- UH Student Health Center
- UH Student Center
- UH Human Resources,
- University Wellness
- College of Nursing
- College of Pharmacy
- College of Medicine
- UH Police Department
- UH Office of Emergency Management
- UH Environmental Health and Life Safety
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