Pharmacy Students Reached Out to Voters on Election Day with Free Flu Shots
By organizing Vote & Vax community outreach projects where free flu
shots were provided at two sites on the Nov. 6 Election Day, students
at the University of Maryland (UM) School of Pharmacy were
able to vaccinate many people who would not have had the opportunity
The 30 students and faculty members gave free flu shots to 159 people
at Langley Park Community Center in Prince George's County and 62
people at the Lula G. Scott Community Center in Anne Arundel County.
Both centers were adjacent to voting places.
Vote & Vax was especially meaningful to one woman, a breast cancer
survivor, says student pharmacist Elizabeth
Tien. "As a breast cancer survivor, she is part of the at-risk
population who should receive annual flu vaccinations," Tien recalls.
"However, she no longer had health insurance and could not afford to
pay for immunizations."
The students organized Vote & Vax to help meet the needs of
underserved residents and to demonstrate the expanding role of
pharmacists, including the ability of board-registered immunizing
pharmacists to immunize in all 50 states.
"It was extremely gratifying to see the impact we can impart as student
pharmacists. Our goal was to serve the health care needs of the local
community and advocate for our profession by exhibiting the scope of
our practice in public health and disease prevention," says Tien.
The project was organized by the School's American Pharmacists
Association (APhA)-Academy of Student Pharmacists, the American Society
of Health-System Pharmacists, and the Student Section of the Maryland
Public Health Association. The UM student pharmacists had passed the
APhA's certificate program for immunizing pharmacists. They are
fourth-year students expecting to graduate in May and were supervised
by faculty under the School's experiential learning rotation.
"This is another way our students have
learned to incorporate themselves into the realm of public health.
Immunizing 221 people was important, but equally important perhaps was
the six months of planning to identify locations with health
disparities and organize this with the county health departments. The
students did all of that," says faculty advisor Cherokee Layson-Wolf,
PharmD, CGP, FAPhA,, assistant dean for
experiential learning and an associate professor in the School's
Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science. "The inherent benefits of
this activity are the students learning to plan the program and the
county health officials seeing what pharmacists can do."
The free flu shots, which were supplied by Prince George's County and
Anne Arundel County health departments, provide protection against
three strains of the flu virus, including H1N1. Each year, as many as
60 million people in the United States come down with the flu.
"Through our student pharmacists' vaccination efforts, they are playing
a vital and important role in ensuring that the public health needs of
Maryland's citizens are met," says Natalie
D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP, dean of the School of Pharmacy.
"Their outreach is commendable and consistent with their focus on
community engagement, a commitment they will surely continue as