March 6, 2021

Loma Linda University Students Are Playing a Crucial Role in Vaccine Distribution

Loma Linda University health professions students are playing a crucial role in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in San Bernardino County in California, United States, by administering tens of thousands of vaccines to patients from throughout the Inland Empire.

Several hundred students from the School of Allied Health Professions, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and School of Pharmacy have volunteered to administer vaccines in a number of community vaccine clinics, including Loma Linda University Health’s two vaccine sites, at the Drayson Center and Faculty Medical Clinics, where up to 2,000 community members are vaccinated daily.

Third-year pharmacy student Gilma Garcia said it was rewarding to be a part of an all-hands-on-deck response. 

“To know that by volunteering, we were helping to take some of the pressure off frontline health-care workers, who are busy saving lives, was a blessing,” Garcia said. “It was also truly special to see how happy people in the community were to get the vaccine.”

Michael Hogue, dean of LLU’s School of Pharmacy, has played an integral role in establishing clinics in line with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and California state guidelines and said students receive training and serve the public under licensed supervision. 

“The response from Loma Linda University students to the call for volunteers has been tremendous,” he said. “They are working to end the pandemic as quickly as possible by helping us reach the goal to see 80 percent of our population vaccinated.”

Pharmacy students were the driving force behind a mobile clinic that served Black and Latino populations in the city of Adelanto, vaccinating more than 1,400 individuals in one week. 

In January, medical students and incoming freshmen from the School of Medicine volunteered at vaccine clinics and drive-through testing sites at SAC Health System after severe staff shortages affected the operation of COVID-19 testing drive-through lines.

Students are also helping to vaccinate the underserved, who live in the poorest parts of the city of San Bernardino. Teams of students from the respiratory care program at the School of Allied Health Professions have administered hundreds of vaccines in parking-lot clinics.

Loma Linda University reportedly has the first bachelor of science entry-level respiratory care program in the United States to include COVID-19 vaccinator training in its curriculum, according to the department’s program director, “and [the first] to schedule students to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to the public.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Loma Linda University Health news site.

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