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ETSU assists in giving region’s first COVID-19 vaccines

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy has assisted in recent weeks giving the region’s first COVID-19 vaccines at hospitals across the region in collaboration with Ballad Health and ETSU Health. The events marked a historic moment for a region that has battled the pandemic since March and continues to set new records for COVID-19 case counts.
Over 50 ETSU student pharmacists and faculty have served more than 300 hours so far, distributing over 6,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at locations including Johnson City Medical Center, Holston Valley Medical Center, Bristol Regional Medical Center, and Johnston Memorial Hospital, in Abingdon, Va.
Together, faculty and student pharmacists assisted in administering the vaccine, while students helped additionally by preparing and documenting doses of the vaccine.
“Service activities like this through Gatton really help us interact with nurses and physicians in this area and help us maintain an interprofessional relationship that is really valuable for our future,” said Erin Gorzka, a third-year student pharmacist who recently volunteered to help give vaccines at Johnson City Medical Center.
“We are proud to be part of this momentous effort with Ballad Health to protect our region’s health care workers serving on the front lines of the battle to fight COVID-19,” said Dr. Debbie Byrd, dean of Gatton College of Pharmacy. “We look forward to administering more vaccines as they become available and training more pharmacists to immunize. Pharmacists’ role in health care is so important, now more than ever.”
Dr. Adam Welch, associate dean for assessment and academic affairs, is a national expert on immunization and is leading the college’s plans to help protect the community against COVID-19.
“Our mission is to serve the rural and underserved, so we are excited to be working on opportunities for our students to help immunize our region over the next few months,” said Welch. “Several student organizations, including our American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists Operation Immunization and Student National Pharmaceutical Association chapters, are supporting community providers in administering the vaccine to first responders and those at high risk.”
Learn more about Gatton College of Pharmacy at www.etsu.edu/pharmacy.