Purdue University Northwest (PNW) Nursing students and faculty members have been on the front lines of the pandemic for more than a year. Over the past two weeks, they have been part of the solution by volunteering their time to administer COVID-19 vaccines to fellow students, co-workers and the community.
Clinics organized or sponsored by PNW provided approximately 1,500 first-dose vaccines to students, faculty, staff and community members between April 13 and April 22.
“It’s so exciting to be able to administer vaccines on campus,” LaShaunda Hill, clinical placement coordinator for PNW’s College of Nursing, said as she stood in the clinic space in the Nils K. Nelson Bioscience Innovation Building on PNW’s Hammond campus. “I want to be part of giving back and helping keep people safe.”
Hill noted that PNW graduate Nursing students, who are experienced nurses working in hospitals and clinical settings around Northwest Indiana and the Chicago area, were ecstatic to assist in the process. Undergraduate students also were able to participate and gain real-world patient care experience under direct supervision of their instructors.
“Some students have e-mailed me saying that they are so excited to be a part of history,” Hill said. “They consider the administering of these vaccines to be a historical event.”
The Hammond campus clinic ran for six days with Nursing faculty and students administering the Pfizer vaccine. Meanwhile, deans and senior administrators volunteered alongside students for roles such as check-in and directing foot traffic to keep everything running smoothly and safely.
In La Porte County, the university partnered with HealthLinc to offer the Moderna vaccine at the PNW Westville campus and at HealthLinc’s Michigan City clinic.
Second doses will be administered in May for those who received their first dose at the April vaccine opportunities.
“Our goal was to vaccinate as many members of the extended PNW community as possible,” stated Julie Wiejak, senior executive assistant to the chancellor for strategic initiatives and co-chair of the university’s Safe Return to Campus Task Force.
Wiejak and Jodi Allen, an assistant professor and coordinator of the Family Nurse Practitioner program at PNW, along with Brian Miller, PNW director of Public Safety, worked quickly in early April to organize the vaccination clinics in coordination with county health departments.
Gerald Akujobi, who will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a criminal justice concentration and minor in forensic science, is a resident assistant in PNW’s University Village residence halls. He learned through a supervisor about the volunteer opportunity and was happy to help with registration at the vaccine clinic.
“It wasn’t always easy to just walk into a facility and get the (COVID-19) vaccine. Being able to come to your local university and have the vaccine administered is very convenient,” Akujobi said. “The sooner students get their vaccines, the sooner they may be able to hang out with their friends.”
Raven Chant, a student leader earning her master’s degree in Communications this spring, agreed that offering the vaccines on campus made it convenient and accessible to students and the community.
“It’s important to get your vaccination to take that next step in returning to normal, not only in terms of getting back on campus, but into our communities as well,” she said.
HealthLinc is administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at its community health centers around the region. Call 1-888-580-1060 to schedule an appointment. PNW will be offering the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at its Hammond Campus May 5-7 and May 11-13 and can take walk-ins for a second dose only, if the individual can show a CDC vaccination record that the first dose was administered at least 21 days earlier. Visit www.pnw.edu/vaccination for more information.