OSU Institute of Technology took part in the nationwide race to vaccinate eligible patients Wednesday to reduce infection rates and help bring an end to the global pandemic.
OSUIT was chosen to participate as a POD (Point of Dispensing) by the Okmulgee County Health Department. With assistance from Dean of Students Devin DeBock and the Pandemic Response Team (PRT), the campus quickly assembled and made preparations to host the site in Covelle Hall.
The collaboration included over 40 volunteers with OSUIT, including the National Guard, veterans, Medical Reserve Corps., Okmulgee Emergency Management, and the Okmulgee County Health Department. More than 800 vaccinations were given to Okmulgee residents and OSUIT employees by the end of the day.
"The POD was a joint effort that was smooth and effortless because of the collaboration and relationships built within the community," said Kristen Carollo, health planning coordinator for District 7 of the Oklahoma State Department of Health. "We appreciate the partnerships that helped create this opportunity for community members to receive their first COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine."
OSUIT Nursing students were on call and jumped into action to assist with vaccinations.
"Primarily, we are the vaccinators, meaning the students verify patient identification and go over the consent form, provide education about expected effects, answer any questions the patient has and then give the shot," said Jodi Campbell, director of Nursing. "Beyond that, our students are doing whatever tasks are needed from sanitizing clipboards to assisting patients to and from vehicles—all parts of the process are valuable and have teachable moments attached."
In addition to the vaccinations on campus, OSUIT Nursing students have also assisted OSU Medicine in Tulsa. Campbell said 120 second through fourth-semester students assisted the OSUIT and OSU Medicine POD locations. All students involved received credit toward their required clinical time and later this semester will count toward volunteer and service-learning. She explained that during this historic moment in America, community outreach is essential.
"It helps us not only become more aware of the community itself but also of the vital role that nurses play in maintaining and elevating the health of those communities," she said. "For the COVID vaccine clinics, in particular, it is wonderful to feel like we are getting to contribute to the global fight against this virus and also in moving our world toward a version of normal."
Campbell explained that students receive an opportunity to practice giving medication and all the steps that go along with the process, a fundamental nursing skill.
"From a broader perspective, they are also getting to hone their skills of communication, trust-building and education. These are essentially all of our program outcomes—patient-centered care, teamwork and collaboration, safety and infection control, evidence-based practice and nursing informatics are touched in some part of this process," she said.
As statewide numbers of reported infections gradually decline, the Oklahoma COVID-19 Risk Level System provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Okmulgee County has recently been downgraded to yellow or low-risk. With continued mask usage and infection prevention practices in place, rates should continue to drop. This brings a sense of relief to our nurses and other frontline workers who have faced this pandemic from the beginning.
"Nurses have been at the forefront of this fight, and this is the way these future nurses can contribute to that legacy," said Campbell.
Those who received their first dose of the Pfizer Vaccine will return on March 31 to receive their second dose at the same location and appointment time.
To register for a first the COVID-19 vaccine or schedule an appointment visit vaccinate.oklahoma.gov or call the Okmulgee County Health Department at 918-756-1883.