On Hawai‘i Island, 48 UH Hilo student pharmacists have been helping at vaccination sites in Hilo. Students also have been assisting on O‘ahu at vaccination events held at Leeward Community College and UH Mānoa.
When COVID-19 testing clinics became more accessible last summer and fall, pharmacy students from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo worked at on-campus testing events. Student pharmacists assisted with collecting screening paperwork, checking vital signs, managing traffic flow and sanitizing all resources between each person.
Once vaccines started to become available late last year, pharmacy college faculty and staff worked with the Hawai‘i Department of Health and UH officials to coordinate student and faculty volunteers at various vaccination points of dispensing (PODs), starting over the winter break on O‘ahu, and also on Maui and Hawai‘i Island beginning in the new year.
“Our communities owe all planners and workers a great debt of gratitude for their tireless efforts to get us back with our families and friends, to move us to a safe and better new normal, and to stoke our economy,” writes Carolyn Ma, dean of the pharmacy college, in her opening remarks in the current issue of the college’s newsletter. “I commend our wonderful faculty and staff for the examples they have set for our students, but I also want to recognize our students for their selfless contributions to helping preserve the health of all residents in our state.”
On Hawai‘i Island, 48 UH Hilo student pharmacists have been helping at vaccination sites in Hilo, including at KTA Superstores pharmacies and several recent large-scale vaccination PODs, where 2,000 doses were administered per event.
Students also have been assisting on O‘ahu at vaccination events held at Leeward Community College and UH Mānoa.
Students and faculty members are providing valuable services at these sites, preparing vaccine syringes by drawing doses from the multi-dose vials, performing vaccinations, helping with registration, helping to manage vaccine counts and thawing, and monitoring people post-vaccination.
APhA-ASP, or American Pharmacist Association—Academy of Student Pharmacists, UH Hilo Chapter, is the student organization that’s been organizing most of the student vaccination efforts through their project called Operation Immunization. They are the largest student organization on the UH Hilo campus.
The pandemic has impacted the way most students are learning, but for those preparing for a career in a healthcare profession, it has changed where and how they learn, notes the dean of the college. “It’s a time for more hands-on learning, and we’re seeing that our students are well-prepared to step up and contribute to this nationwide effort.”
“The pandemic has created many challenges for our students but these events have given them opportunities to be on the front lines in responding to it and serving their communities,” says Ma. “They have an important role to play in this unprecedented public health endeavor.”
For more information, read the story by Peg Zenk Bitter in the current issue of Kāwili Lā‘au (PDF), the newsletter of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.
Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.