MEQUON, Wis. — It will take thousands of people to pull off the historic rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. To help, Concordia University Wisconsin is tapping some of their students to join the effort.
"I’m excited," said Kyle Rehrauer.
Inspired by his parents' medical careers, 21-year-old Kyle is a first-year pharmacy student at Concordia University Wisconsin. He also works as a certified pharmacy technician. Soon he will be trained to immunize patients a couple of years earlier than expected.
"We’ve all been through a lot and being able to even as a student play an active role in the solution, to what we all have had to go through, I think that was the most attractive aspect of it," said Kyle.
"There have not been the allowances to get more people trained and ready to go, to me this has been unprecedented," said Dr. Sarah Ray, Associate Professor at Concordia's School of Pharmacy.
Dr. Ray has taught immunization delivery and the training is typical to prep third and fourth-year pharmacy students.
However, due to the pandemic and the federal government's effort to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible, it is expanding to first and second-year students who are certified pharmacy technicians.
"We’ve got a group of about 16 to 20 students that’ll be getting that training early in January so that they’re ready to help their employers or to help our local health departments immunize patients," said Dr. Ray.
It is a 20-hour program that consists of a self-study section and an in-person component.
Students learn about immunology, the available vaccines, how to screen patients appropriately, how to determine the right recommendations for vaccines, storage, documentation, handling emergencies or adverse events, and how to give an injection.
Dr. Ray said students will be able to administer COVID-19 vaccines to patients by spring.
"Pharmacists for a very long time have been great public health advocates and partners and this is the way that we can really be showing our students that were putting this into action," said Dr. Ray.
As for Kyle, getting a shot to be part of the pandemic response has reinforced his dreams.
"We sign up for this because we do want to help people," said Kyle.