More than 200 members of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) community got their influenza vaccinations and coronavirus boosters at an on-campus clinic Oct. 20. The event was sponsored by the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP), the UMB Health Sciences and Human Services Library (HSHSL), and Walgreens.
For the first time in the clinic’s five-year history, offerings were expanded to include COVID-19 and pneumonia vaccines. COVID-19 vaccinations included first, second, and booster dosages.
As of 8:45 that morning, people were lined up waiting for their turn to roll up their sleeves, said Cherokee Layson-Wolf, PharmD, BCACP, FAPhA, associate dean and professor at UMSOP. Pharmacy students preparing and administering doses were put through their paces with the steady flow of people keeping their appointments for shots, plus a handful of walk-ins.
“We have been super busy all day, and that's great, because what that says to me is that people are really interested in keeping themselves protected against flu and COVID,” she said.
“It’s really important to get your flu shot now,” Layson-Wolf continued, “because right now we're in the throes of flu season, especially now that everything is kind of coming back, and people are starting to congregate. And it's getting colder, we're coming indoors, and we're seeing fewer and fewer people wear masks. It's super important that we get vaccinated against the flu, so we can help protect ourselves against that, but then also help keep ourselves from spreading it to others.”
For Cindy M. Schaeffer, PhD, associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, convenience was the key factor in attending the clinic.
“I think the timing is perfect for the fall increases in both flu and COVID coronavirus,” she said. “I just love doing it on campus where I work, and I love being part of the UMB community as I get vaccinated.”
At the clinic, Schaeffer received a flu shot and her fourth COVID booster “at the same time, in the same arm. I feel great and everybody was super nice. It was very quick, efficient process.”
You will find her at next year’s clinic, also.
“I will absolutely take whatever vaccines are available again next year,” she said.
Like Schaeffer, Bill Crockett, MS, RCRSP, executive director, Student Affairs, also took advantage of the convenience of an on-campus clinic.
“I have been keeping myself inoculated and this is a location that's right next to my offices, and I was looking forward to this day to get my next booster and my flu shot,” he said. “Also, I love the fact that our student learners have the ability to provide the service so that we get to provide a great opportunity for them to actually practice their skills and grow their competencies.”
Third-year pharmacy student Daniel Smith echoed Crockett’s sentiments about the value of this hands-on learning opportunity.
“I think it’s important for us to participate in events like this because as pharmacists, community outreach will be an important part of what we do,” said Smith, who is also president of the UMSOP chapter of the National Community Pharmacists Association. “I think it's great for students like us to get involved in flu shot clinics, anything we can do to help the community.”
Tara Wink, MLS, historical librarian and archivist at the HSHSL, and Anna-Marie Epps, MS, administrative program specialist at the library, help to coordinate the clinic each year and are proud that the library plays an important role in the event.
“Part of being a library is we support so many different schools on campus. This is a great opportunity to get our resources out, but also to get people in the library,” Wink said. “We're a central location, everybody knows we're here. But we also really do want to make partnerships across campus and break down some of the silos that happen throughout the different schools. It is well liked on campus. Everybody asks when we're doing it, and everybody's thrilled to see it every year.”