Amid an early flu season, Georgetown University nursing students volunteered to help vaccinate over 1,000 students.
The free flu vaccination clinics, held in the Leavey Center on Sept. 19 and Sept. 23 for students living on campus, were hosted by the School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) and the Student Health Center (SHC). They launched the clinics amid the unusually early flu season on campus, which resulted in 46 confirmed cases of influenza A on the main and medical center campuses as of Sept. 10. The clinic vaccinated 1,184 students, according to a university spokesperson.
To aid in the flu vaccination effort, a group of 16 seniors in the NHS Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BNS) program volunteered to prepare the flu shots and administer the vaccines, an annual tradition for seniors in this program.
Rosalyn Wang (NHS ’22), who volunteered for eight hours and vaccinated approximately 100 people, said the experience provided an essential hands-on learning experience that helped prepare her for a nursing career.
“I became involved in the flu vaccine clinic because I believe in supporting the health of my classmates and the Hoya community,” Wang said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “For me, nursing involves not only meeting an individual’s physical, emotional, social and mental needs, but also meeting the needs of the community.”
Prior to the vaccine clinics, the university had advised that students get vaccinated as early as possible to combat the spread of the flu with an unusually early high volume of flu cases occurring on campus, according to a Sept. 16 message to students from Dr. Ranit Mishori (MED ’02), university vice president and chief public health officer.
Students with appointments lined up well before the clinic officially opened at 9 a.m., and the clinic continued to operate well into the afternoon. The clinics lasted for over 12 hours across both dates.
Since Georgetown experienced a rise in flu cases earlier than expected, the SHC needed to quickly mobilize the vaccination effort, and the efficiency and success of this last-minute clinic relied on the senior nursing students, according to Wang.
“This is just part of my job as a nurse to always be providing primary prevention to viruses and public health issues that arise in our society or community,” Wang said.
The university has provided nursing students opportunities to gain experience through vaccine clinics in the past. In March 2021, third- and fourth-year students from the Georgetown School of Medicine and clinical graduate students from the NHS had volunteered at four D.C. MedStar Health facilities and other public health locations to aid in distributing COVID-19 vaccinations. The SHC also typically hosts clinics where students can receive free immunization against the flu by appointment or walk-in during mid-October.
Geraldine Sackey (NHS ’22), another nursing student who helped administer flu vaccines at the clinics, said she felt happy to be able to get direct practice as a nurse.
“We had a lot of our nursing experience taken away because of COVID,” Sackey said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “I feel like a lot of us were very excited to just be in the field again and get more experience.”
Many nursing students were eager to volunteer at the clinic after receiving a message from the NHS with a sign-up sheet to participate, according to Sackey.
“They sent out a sign-up sheet, and a lot of nursing students signed up,” Sackey said.
The university plans to partner with Labcorp to hold more flu vaccine clinics for students, faculty and staff throughout October and November, according to a university spokesperson. The clinics will take place at various locations on- and off-campus, and the Oct. 14 clinic co-sponsored by NHS and SHS will accommodate up to 800 people, according to a university spokesperson.
According to Wang, the student volunteers were a key factor in the success of the clinics.
“I am grateful for all the students who joined the community health effort, because without the people that showed up to the clinic and gave time out of their lives to go get the vaccines, the clinic would not have done so well,” Wang said.