MU | Features
Andrea Knutson , a third-year pharmacy student , answered a call to President Biden ’ s national COVID-19 response plan . Led by FEMA in coordination with the CDC and state agencies , the initiative seeks pharmacy-trained volunteers for vaccine distribution to U . S . communities with high needs .
In the Public Health and Pharmacy course taught by Kathryn Marwitz , Pharm . D ., MPH , last fall , Knutson had an emergency preparedness class that raised her awareness of community outreach , she said .
Last February , Knutson , who serves as APhA-ASP Operation Immunization Chair , received emails from the American Pharmacists Association and the Indiana Pharmacy Association announcing a national need for volunteers to aid with the president ’ s COVID vaccination initiative .
“ It really clicked with everything Dr . Marwitz talked about , so I was very interested and returned the survey form ,” Knutson said .
By April , a FEMA representative contacted her to assist in Tennessee with a 10-day vaccination drive . But , with changing needs , her assignment date shifted to Norfolk , Va ., instead , adding another challenge since it was also during finals week .
Her professors were all very supportive of her unique service opportunity and worked with her to find a solution , Knutson said .
Through Manchester ’ s on-campus proctoring program , Examplify – monitored by Michelle Kibiger , director of assessment and Rob Beckett , associate professor of pharmacy practice – she was able to take her exams as scheduled from her hotel .
Her first day in Norfolk was spent in training , which she compared to the immunization class she took in her first year as a pharmacy student . The volunteers also received instruction from the Virginia Department of Health .
“ They wanted to ensure that we were prepared to administer vaccines and were familiar with the COVID vaccines in particular ,” Knutson said .
The volunteers started with local high schools . They unpacked boxes of supplies , organized and set up the pharmacy and patient areas . Knutson took the task of reconstituting doses since not as many vaccinators were needed at first . The team also provided clinics at a local church and YMCA .
In August , she answered the call for one more deployment to Las Vegas before fall semester . This time , most of their efforts were in helping the state and health departments canvass areas with low turnout to inform and boost participation at local vaccination clinics .
Though volunteers aren ’ t paid for their service , they do receive per diem pay for meals , and are provided with lodging and transportation , including airfare and local rental car , Knutson said .
“ I had an amazing team and made connections with pharmacists from California to New York and pharmacy students from North Carolina and Tennessee ,” said Knutson . “ It was a very valuable experience and use of my time .”
Jason Kim , a first-year pharmacy student was elected as Manchester ’ s representative to the Indiana Academy of Student Pharmacists .
Chloe Nestel , a fourth-year Pharm . D ., M . S . in PGX student , has been named the first recipient of the newly endowed Thain Scholarship of the Indiana Pharmacists Association , named for Jeremy Thain , a giant among his peers in the IPA .
Manchester University | ManchesterRx 11