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MCW vaccine clinic highlights expanded role of pharmacist during critical moment in history

As COVID-19 vaccinations began providing a ray of hope in late 2020, the Office of Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) hosted a vaccine clinic on site and School of Pharmacy faculty, staff, and students were the first to respond to the call to administer about 20,000 vaccines to healthcare personnel and other eligible populations early in the vaccine rollout. 

MCW’s School of Pharmacy prepares students to fulfill the expanded role of the pharmacist, which includes administering vaccinations. And because students participate in an accelerated three-year pharmacy degree (PharmD) program with early exposure to clinical settings, second- and third-year students can administer vaccinations, while first-year students can facilitate clinical work including  compounding medications.

“Not only do students study immunizations and how they work, they learn the skills necessary to administer them appropriately,” explains Karen J. MacKinnon, BPharm, RPh, assistant professor, School of Pharmacy. “The vaccine clinic allowed them to practice these skills at a very important time in our history.”

Carol Eling, nurse practitioner, was the first person to receive a vaccine at the MCW clinic. “I was so excited, and for me, the decision was easy. I didn’t want to be scared anymore about getting COVID-19. I wanted to see and hug my children, grandchildren, siblings and friends, as well as attend church. The MCW clinic gave me that opportunity.” 

The clinic was staffed by more than 500 internal and external volunteers offering more than 8,000 hours of service. There were 56 pharmacy students who volunteered, all of whom were supervised by a licensed pharmacist preceptor.