Volunteers Needed as Purdue Prepares for Vaccine Distribution

Friday, April 2, 2021

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Following approval from the Indiana State Department of Health, Purdue University is preparing to serve as a vaccine distribution site with on-campus vaccinations expected to begin as early as Tuesday, April 6. The State Department of Health has instructed the university to prioritize students first in an effort to vaccinate as many as possible before leaving campus at the end of the spring semester. This Protect Purdue giant leap will begin with the goal of vaccinating as many as 3,500 students per day for the first seven days that the clinic is open.

Dr. Malek wears a mask and volunteer vest as she holds up a bandaid marked with the number of vaccines she's administered
Dr. Sarah Malek proudly displays a tally of COVID-19 vaccine doses she administered – 66 vaccines during her first volunteer shift.

Many volunteers will be needed to accomplish this feat, including in both clinical and non-clinical roles. Thanks to national efforts to increase the COVID-19 vaccine workforce, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in March that veterinarians and veterinary students now are approved to help administer the vaccine.

A number of faculty and students in the College of Veterinary Medicine have already begun volunteering in the community, including Assistant Professor of Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery Sarah Malek, Small Animal Surgery Resident Beatriz Belda Lopez, and second year veterinary student Kelley Sharp who have been helping at the recently established Maple Point Drive Vaccination Clinic in Lafayette.

There are several ways to volunteer, not only as vaccinators, but also as observers and assisting with registration. Dr. Lopez initially volunteered as a Spanish translator, but was able to qualify as a vaccinator after the end of her first day, when an additional vaccine became available. To date, all PVM members who have volunteered have been able to receive the vaccine during one of their shifts.

When asked about her experience volunteering, Dr. Malek shared, “It’s a way of giving back to the community that would not be possible under normal circumstances, and everyone can do a little bit to help. Once you do even a single shift, it really helps you feel like you’ve made a difference in the grand scheme of things. Especially during a time when many have felt so helpless for so long, you feel that you are helping things move in the right direction, even if your contribution is small.”

Kelley sits as Dr. Malek gives her a vaccine shot in her left arm
Dr. Sarah Malek administers a vaccine dose to fellow volunteer Kelley Sharp, a DVM student in the Class of 2023, who was able to receive her first dose at the end of a volunteer shift at the Maple Point Drive Vaccination Clinic in Lafayette.

Purdue is seeking volunteers to assist with the on campus vaccine distribution in non-clinical roles such as assisting with check-in, set-up, and logistics. Additionally, clinical volunteers are needed to draw-up doses, administer vaccines, supervise student pharmacists, and monitor the holding area. In an email sent to PVM faculty, staff, and students, Dean Willie Reed said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for our college to assist the university in this time of need.  Many have already stepped forward and I applaud you for your efforts.”

Those interested in volunteering should email covidvaccine@121.health and identify as a College of Veterinary Medicine faculty, staff, or student willing to help and indicate whether that’s in a clinical or non-clinical role. The Protect Purdue Health Center will then reach out with a sign-up schedule and additional information.

The college hosted training earlier this week for those interested in serving as vaccinators in the community as well as on campus. Additional training will be available Tuesday, April 6 at 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Qualified faculty and students should have received an email yesterday with sign-up instructions.

Following state guidelines, all Purdue employees are now eligible to receive a vaccine at one of the many sites in the area communities. Click here to register through the Indiana State Department of Health website.

Writer(s): Jonathan Martz, PVM Communications Intern, and Allison Carey | pvmnews@purdue.edu

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