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Nursing students/faculty administer COVID-19 vaccines throughout the state

Holmes Community College nursing students and instructors from both the Associate Degree Nursing Programs and the Practical Nursing Programs from all campuses have been busy this semester administering COVID-19 vaccinations and will continue to do so throughout the semester.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been given at the following locations: Canton High School, Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson, Warren County Health Department at Uptown Mall in Vicksburg, Baptist Hospital, Philadelphia, Starkville, University of Mississippi Medical Center Covid Vaccine Clinic in Grenada, Oxford Conference Center in Lafayette County, Health Department in Leflore County and Civic Center in Panola County with future vaccinations scheduled at Trustmark Park in Pearl. No group has given the Johnson and Johnson vaccine yet.

The Mississippi Department of Health reached out to nursing programs across the state, and Holmes answered their call for help. The programs have administered thousands of vaccines to this point.

“How exciting it is that our students get to be on the frontline in such a time as this,” Director of Health Science Programs Ginger Meriwether said. “While most of us will read about and view the pandemic from the outside looking in, many health science students will be featured as those providing direct patient care during this crisis. Imagine reading textbooks in the future and our very own Holmes Community College Health Science students are those of whom are administering direct patient care. I am extremely proud of all of our students and instructors as they lead by example.”

“Due to the overwhelming strain on the state to administer wide spread COVID-19 vaccinations, the Mississippi Department of Health reached out to nursing programs across the state to notify us of upcoming vaccination opportunities,” Ridgeland Campus PN Instructor Heather Roberts said. “We as instructors made the decision that our students should be involved in this unprecedented event at the ground level. We have been able to assist the MS Baptist Clinics with their vaccine drive on several occasions now, and we will also be assisting the MS National Guard with two different drive through vaccination sites in the Jackson area.”

“The experience was great for the students,” ADN Assistant Director, Department Chair and Instructor Dr. Alice Austin said. “Several have commented that they loved the experience. It gave them a ton of experience giving injections, built confidence levels and allowed them to use their communication skills. Also, it gave them an opportunity to be a part of the pandemic solutions.”

“The students have enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with Mississippi residents on a broad scale,” Roberts said. “They have had the opportunity to practice social and mental health practices along with their physical skills when administering the vaccine. They have played a role in educating the clients and processing their information as well as providing the vaccine and immediate follow-up care. It is important in helping the students develop their communication skills and in promoting their confidence. They had the ability to see themselves making a difference in the world.”

“The students have enjoyed the experience,” Attala Center PN Instructor and Division Chair Dr. Christi Blair said. “They have vaccinated between 400-500 people a day. They have learned multiple skills that are invaluable in the nursing field. It also allowed them to participate in this historic pandemic as part of the solution to this crisis.”

Grenada Campus PN Instructor Heather Rozier said this opportunity gave the students more clinical and injection experience than ever before. “They are an instrumental part of a pandemic and will be a part of its history in combating and overcoming the devastation of Covid-19,” Rozier said. “The Grenada PN students assessed the recipient, explained the vaccine information, administered the vaccine and monitored them during each visit. This enhanced their time management and teamwork skills as well as effective communication.”

“Our students really enjoyed the experience as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to serve the community during a pandemic,” ADN Assistant Program Director Dr. Theresa Hargett said. “The students observed and participated in a real community event showing them how the nursing role expands beyond direct care for an acute hospital stay. The students assisted in all areas of the experience from assessment to drawing up, administering and follow up with the vaccinations.”

All instructors agree that for our society to return to some sense of normalcy Mississippians should get vaccinated.

“It is very important to decrease the number of cases,” Dr. Austin said. “As a healthcare and essential workers, we have been dealing with patients with Covid-19 for a year now. One way to decrease the numbers is for persons to get vaccinated. The vaccines are free so there is no expense.”

“If we are to return to a sense of “normalcy,” vaccines are going to have to play a role,” Roberts said. “When we get more people vaccinated, we will see less aggressive and devastating side effects of COVID-19. Therefore, we will begin to see a drop in the over burdening of our healthcare system. With the multiple opportunities for drive-through vaccinations, choices in vaccine types, and free cost of vaccination, it is practical to see wide spread vaccination coverage and the return to a less invasive and less restrictive lifestyle.”

“Individuals should receive this vaccine so their body has the ability to fight this virus,” Dr. Blair said. “This not only protects the individual but also others they come in contact with on a daily basis. Everyone must do their part to help end this crisis.”

“Encouraging citizens to receive the Covid vaccine is imperative to saving lives and returning to somewhat of a “normal” life,” said Rozier.

“Faculty and students have seen first-hand in our nursing division and personal lives the severity the impact of COVID-19 can have on individuals and families,” Dr. Hargett said. “If we ever have any hope of returning to some type of “normalcy”, it is imperative for everyone to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity.”

The nursing programs saw the importance of their involvement in this process.

“We are training the new generation of health care workers, and they need to be exposed as to how to work in every situation,” Dr. Austin said. “It happens to be the coronavirus this time. At one time, it was HIV/AIDS.”

“I think having our program participate in administering the COVID-19 vaccines was very important,” Roberts said. “We want to instill a sense of social responsibility in our students. Encouraging them to make a difference and participate in a time of extreme need will hopefully resonate with them as they become full-fledged nurses. We are all accountable for doing our part in this healthcare crisis, and it gave our students an opportunity to do just that. It’s also important for the community to see our healthcare programs invested in meeting the needs of the community that supports us.”

“Holmes Community College is very involved in the community and this is one way the nursing department can assist to help stop the spread of the virus and be part of the solution,” Dr. Blair said. “It demonstrates to the students how invaluable community service is.”

“Holmes Community College Grenada Practical Nursing instructors and students are forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of history,” Rozier said. “These students will have lived firsthand the history nursing books will print about for years to come. UMMC Grenada and Holmes Community College-Grenada work closely to provide necessary clinical experiences to these students in order to provide the knowledge base required for successful nursing.”

“Almost every school has gotten involved in assisting with immunizations based on input during our recent Mississippi Council of Deans and Directors of Schools of Nursing,” Dr. Hargett said. “It is important for Holmes to get involved not merely for recognition but to show our students we care and will rise to any opportunity to help our community in times of need.”

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Inquiries regarding compliance with Title VI, ADEA, and Title IX are coordinated by the Vice President for
Compliance and Institutional Research, Henry B. McClellan Administration Building, Post Office Box 369,
Goodman, MS 39079, Phone: 662-472-9429,

Inquiries regarding compliance with Section 504 and ADA are coordinated by the Disability Student Services
Coordinator, M.R. Thorne Vocational-Technical Building, Room 110, Post Office Box 369, Goodman, MS 39079,
Phone: 662-472-9088,
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