On July 31st, the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy hosted a Back to School event collaborating with Walgreens, Pharmacists for Healthier Lives, AACP, Western Sky Community Care, CDC, and APhA. During this event, the UNM Pharmacy Team was able to vaccinate 40 patients, mainly children between the ages of 12 and 16. The team provided education about various vaccines needed for school attendance and provided patients with access to their shot records using New Mexico’s statewide database, known as New Mexico Immunization Information System (NMSIIS).
The community members who were vaccinated at the event expressed how grateful they were for the opportunity and how easy it made accessing the COVID vaccine. One patient expressed fear about receiving the vaccine, so on-site student pharmacists utilized motivational interviewing techniques that they learned in the classroom to comfort them while receiving their first dose. Pharmacy students play a vital role in administering vaccines, not only at events like this but all over the country!
Another patient had reservations about getting the vaccine due to an upcoming medical procedure they had scheduled. The pharmacy students provided all the necessary information to help them make an educated decision to get the vaccine and protect themselves before their procedure.
These types of events are essential for student pharmacists to learn about their role in their communities, how to best interact with patients, and how to talk about topics like vaccinations in an accessible way. This event provided students with the opportunity to apply classroom lessons to practical, hands-on situations. Pharmacy students play significant roles at events like these in protecting children’s health by providing vaccines and education to their families.
Participating in vaccination drives is immensely important for pharmacy students to learn necessary skills for their future in the profession and provide an incredible opportunity to connect with their communities. Not only do students get the opportunity to brush up on hard skills, like administering vaccines, but they also get to work on their interpersonal communication skills. The events also allow the community to better understand vaccinations, healthcare options, and pharmacists’ services beyond dispensing medications.
As we work towards vaccinating the United States against COVID-19 and ensuring that children receive their childhood vaccinations, events like these are critical in building vaccine confidence and community trust.