Nursing students administer 1,420 first dose vaccines


Photo by: Josh Meredith

Nursing students Eleanor Conley and Maddison Fields prepare their vaccination stations Apr. 7. Conley said it was an honor to administer COVID vaccines to her fellow students.

Shelby Clark, Digital Editor

1,420 people received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the university vaccination clinic. 

Nursing students from the College of Nursing and Health Professions administered the free Pfizer vaccine April 7-9. 

“I was very honored to get to administer vaccines,” said Eleanor Conley, a junior nursing and French major. 

“It felt very historical,” Conley said. “I will always be able to tell my grandkids that when the pandemic hit, I was part of an organization on campus right there on the frontlines giving vaccines to my fellow students.”  

Conley arrived at 7:15 a.m. and left around 2 p.m April 7. She said President Ronald Rochon came and talked to each of the students administering the vaccine. 

“We all talked about how much it made us feel recognized and valued by both the university and the president individually,” Conley said. “We felt very supported by our nursing faculty, and we were just thankful that so many students came.” 

Students, faculty and staff from all four colleges, student affairs, members of the Foundation Board, retirees and alumni came together to run the university vaccination clinic.

Ann White, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions, said the vaccination clinic demonstrated how the university operates like a family. 

“This is USI’s culture,” White said. “People step up.” 

The vaccination clinic was scheduled to be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. Nursing students and faculty stayed thirty to forty-five minutes late April 7 and April 8 to ensure all the drawn Pfizer vaccines were administered, White said. 

“Every single night when we were done, we gave every single dose that we had available to give to people,” White said. “We didn’t waste one dose of the vaccine.” 

Once a Pfizer vaccine is thawed, mixed and drawn into a syringe, it must be administered, White said. The remaining Pfzier vaccines are being stored in a super cooler in the Science Center.  

Nursing students will administer the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the vaccination clinic April 28-30. Appointments for the second dose were scheduled before the first dose was administered. 

Since people can receive their second injection three weeks after their first dose at any location administering Pfizer vaccines, White said they are still deciding if they will allow people to receive their first dose of the vaccine the second time the clinic is open. 

White said she was hoping they would administer around 2,000 first dose Pfizer vaccines, but she said it was good news that 1,420 students, faculty, staff and family were vaccinated. 

The clinic accepted walk-in appointments April 9 to encourage more people to take advantage of the available vaccines, White said. 

The vaccination clinic closed at 5 p.m. April 9. The staff organizing the clinic looked at the scheduled appointments for April 9 and realized the nursing students could administer the scheduled vaccines sooner, White said.

Mallory Sandullo, a junior nursing major, said it was awesome to know that by administering the vaccine, she was helping keep students and their families safe. 

“It’s a moment in our history that I could be a part of,” Sandullo said. 

Sandullo had only given one flu vaccine before working at the clinic. She said she administered around 50 to 60 COVID-19 vaccines in two days. 

Savannah Puckett, a junior nursing major, said she felt more empowered in the short time she administered vaccines on campus than any clinical day in nursing school. 

She said it was an experience she will never forget.

“I called my mom and my fiancé and was like ‘oh my gosh I gave 45 vaccinations today,’” Puckett said.