Vaccination event moves AU closer to success of First 50 Days plan in fall

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Rebecca Bibbs, The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind.
·3 min read
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Apr. 1—ANDERSON — Anderson University nursing student Josh Kline processed the paperwork on a computer Thursday before administering a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a patient.

The clinic at Reardon Auditorium sponsored in conjunction with the Madison County Health Department not only gave the junior critical experience as he prepares for a career in the medical field, it brought the campus closer to the goals of the new First 50 Days plan announced for the 2021-22 school year.

"It's always better to have hands-on experience instead of them just talking at you," Kline said.

AU Professor of Nursing Sarah Neal, who helped coordinate the event, said she expected to vaccinate as many as 400 people in three hours. Those who received the vaccinations Thursday will have to return April 29 for the second dose.

Though he previously had participated in COVID testing by doing nose swabs, it was Kline's first mass vaccination.

"It feels good watching people come in and getting vaccinated, being part of something bigger than myself," he said.

The last pandemic, the Spanish flu, was a century ago, so participating in the COVID-19 clinic was a rare, possibly once-in-a-lifetime event for the 35 nursing students set up at 24 stations, Neal said.

The vaccination event is one of many the Indiana State Department of Health has encouraged on college and university campuses throughout the state, though AU is only one of about 10, so far, that have seized the opportunity. AU officials hope all students currently on campus will be vaccinated before they return to their families for the summer.

AU's School of Nursing has collaborated with the county health department since the pandemic started, Neal said. The school jumped into action last week when the health department announced the eligible age would drop to 16, capturing the majority of AU students.

People 18 to 24 years of age are among the most prominent COVID spreaders because 80% are asymptomatic, according to Neal.

"If our population is safe from the vaccine, we're not spreading it to the bigger community," she said. "The way the students are seeing it, we're making history. This is empowering. They can make a difference through this pandemic today."

The health department provided all of the medical equipment used for the clinic, including vaccine and syringes.

"I said, 'If you bring the stuff, I've got the manpower,'" she said.

The vaccination event helps meet the goals of AU's First 50 Days Plan.

"The hope and the expectation is is that virtually all facility and staff will get the vaccination," said AU President John S. Pistole. "It gives the parents and guardians some assurance their son or daughter is coming home fully vaccinated."

University officials hope new students also will enter school in August with their vaccinations complete. If that is not the case, Neal said, there might be another vaccination event at that time.

Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.