Health professional students getting opportunity to help during vaccine rollout


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Health professional students from colleges and universities across West Virginia are signing up to help with the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

A new initiative – the West Virginia Vaccine Administration, Collaboration, and Support (WV VACS) Team – and a partnership among the National Guard, Department of Health and Human Resources, and Higher Education Policy Commission has resulted in more than 1,000 health professional students set to help in the efforts.

Lisa Costello, Assistant Professor Pediatrics at WVU and Co-Director of WV VACS told MetroNews that students have had training in administering vaccines and other health-related items that would benefit community clinics.

Lisa Costello

“We were looking at where we could provide additional support, our health professional students, many of them are trained and they do vaccines as part of that training. This was another group of individuals whose skill set could be used as part of this larger effort to provide support,” Costello said.

Currently, just over 1,000 students from 32 health sciences programs across West Virginia have opted in to help with vaccination clinics throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Since March 17, the VACS Team has already deployed 112 students to assist with clinics according to Costello.

The remaining students are in the training process and will be deployed to communities throughout the state in the coming weeks, a release said.

Costello said students helping in the ‘herculean effort’ are in roles such as assisting with the mobility of people getting into a clinic, registration, administering the vaccine, and post monitoring period after vaccination.

WV VACS release said prior to working in communities, students complete an online curriculum that is designed to enhance their knowledge about COVID-19 vaccines and their administration. Once fully trained, groups of students work under supervision with local health providers to give vaccines and support data entry. Higher education institutions determine whether students participate in this voluntary program for either course credit or community service.

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation and our professional students are answering the call to help the communities who are doing amazing work. We just need more individuals to aid in those efforts,” Costello said.

West Virginia hit a milestone on Friday with vaccinations, as over 500,000 citizens have received at least the first dose of a vaccine.

Gov. Jim Justice was thrilled with the effort of this program, mentioning it during his Friday COVID-19 briefing.

“Our higher ed folks are stepping up, our students are stepping up. They are getting on the job training. It is really good for all and we thank them in every way,” Justice said.


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