By: Marissa Sison, Contributing Writer
Towson University has partnered with the Baltimore County Health Department, Helping Up Mission and the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) to create a vaccination program for students. Through this program nursing students from two of Towson’s campuses help to administer the COVID-19 vaccine throughout Maryland.
According to Mary Lashley, a professor in the Department of Nursing and a clinical instructor aiding the distribution effort, the Health Department supplies the vaccines, GBMC provides storage of the vaccines and medical staff, and TU offers surge capacity staffing, allowing the state to vaccinate a larger number of people.
“It was really through that partnership, of these organizations working together, that we were able to effectively provide this service to a very needy population,” Lashley said.
About 87 students are participating in the vaccination program, with 70 students from TU’s main campus and 16 students from the Hagerstown campus. Hayley Mark, the chairperson for the Department of Nursing describes this opportunity as a “win-win.”
The students from TU’s main campus are working at Helping Up Mission, which is a faith-based organization in Baltimore that serves people experiencing homelessness, poverty, or addiction.
“It was a great opportunity to help out a population that’s not always afforded the same health care coverage that a lot of us are, so it was a good experience,” Carl Ertle, a nursing student at TU’s main campus, said.
Prior to administering the vaccines, Lashley says students learn about and discuss communicable diseases and epidemiology, which is a branch of medical science that deals with the incidence, distribution and control of disease in a population.
Students learned about COVID-19, how to mitigate the spread of it, how the vaccine works, how the vaccine is distributed, how to administer the vaccine and the role the vaccine plays in mitigating the spread of the virus.
“This is really the living classroom, and they have an opportunity to care for a very marginalized and vulnerable population and help to protect them from infection,” Lashley said.
Vaccine distribution includes preparing the vaccine, administering it, and documenting who received it. Then, students enter that information as an electronic health record, which then goes to the state of Maryland to keep count of how many people have been vaccinated.
“Being able to give injections and prepare injections is a very important nursing responsibility,” Mark said. “And then of course, the area clinics really need people who can give the vaccines.”
Students were also asked to educate themselves on the specifics of the vaccine they were giving, which was the Moderna vaccine.
“Preparation was mostly review for us,” Ertle said. “It was a review on proper injection administration, sterile technique, and things like that.”
Megan Baile, a nursing student that participated at Helping Up Mission, says this was her first experience delivering an intramuscular injection.
“We’re doing something so big for the pandemic,” Baile said.
According to the Maryland Department of Health, over 2 million people in Maryland are fully vaccinated, and thousands of people in Maryland have been receiving the vaccine each day.
The University System of Maryland has partnered with vaccination sites to offer students COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Register for an appointment on a “University Day,” and remember bring your campus ID. Registration information can be found on TU’s website.