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A shot in the arm

School of Pharmacy offering COVID-19 vaccinations

Campus and Community

By Marcia Porter

Melissa Kieley wants to give you a shot in the arm.

As part of Ms. Kieley’s advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) placement, the fifth-year doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) student and her fellow students are offering COVID-19 vaccinations on Tuesdays in St. John’s.

Anyone 18 and older with a valid MCP card can contact the School of Pharmacy’s Medication Therapy Services (MTS) Clinic by email or by calling 709-864-2274 to book first or second doses of  Moderna.

If you are booking a second dose, have your first vaccine date handy.

‘Look back on and be proud’

Ms. Kieley, who is from St. John’s, says she is excited to participate in administering the vaccine, particularly after seeing her pharmacy student friends and colleagues across Canada doing so over the past few months.

“I think this will be something I’ll look back on and be proud of, since I know it plays a role in beating this pandemic and moving towards a ‘new normal.’”

A PharmD student prepares to give a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a woman wearing a mask and tank top.
Melissa Kieley prepares to give a shot of the Moderna vaccine as part of her advanced pharmacy practice experience placement at the School of Pharmacy’s Medication Therapy Services Clinic.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Her involvement is noteworthy for another reason, too.

Ms. Kieley is among the first cohort of students in the entry-to-practice PharmD program to begin their APPE placements, which give students hands-on experiences in a variety of pharmacy settings during their fifth and final year.

“I know that being involved … will help increase accessibility to COVID-19 vaccines and improve vaccination rates.” — Melissa Kieley

Students complete four of the placements, which give the them an opportunity to practise in a variety of pharmacy settings. This allows them to grow their knowledge and develop pharmaceutical-care skills to prepare them for their future careers.

“Pharmacists are an accessible and trusted resource in our community,” said Ms. Kieley.

“Patients constantly look to their pharmacists for health and medication advice, so we can also help with combatting vaccine hesitancy on top of actually administering the vaccines. I know that being involved in COVID-19 vaccines will help increase accessibility to COVID-19 vaccines and improve vaccination rates.”

“This certainly feels historic,” said Jeremy MacDonald, a MTS Clinic pharmacist.

“It’s amazing how quickly modern science and medicine has been able to develop and manufacture these vaccines, and allowed immunizers to start vaccinating the public.”

Pharmacists stand by the sign for the Medication Therapy Services (MTS) Clinic
Jeremy MacDonald and Melissa Kieley are excited to do their part in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

In keeping with the growing role of community pharmacies as mini health-care hubs, the MTS Clinic also recently helped increase access to immunization and other services in the broader community, offering flu shots, for example.

The MTS Clinic at 1-75 Tiffany Court in St. John’s is “small, quiet, and an ideal location for anyone with a fear of needles or anyone who feels more comfortable avoiding a larger crowd,” said Mr. MacDonald, who recently presented a lecture online about COVID-19 vaccines, how they work and why you should get one, in Vaccines 101, an event hosted by Memorial’s Alumni Engagement office.

The session gave him a chance to dispel myths, correct misinformation and alleviate anyone’s fears about getting vaccinated.

“If you’re hesitant, please reach out. We’d love to discuss any questions and concerns about vaccines and provide information to help you make an informed decision.”

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