Teamwork – that’s the secret to running a COVID-19 vaccine clinic. Ask anyone who volunteered and worked at the Health Sciences Campus COVID-19 vaccine, the downtown Kitchener clinic run by the Centre for Family Medicine and hosted in the School of Pharmacy. The clinic, which operated from March 15 to August 13, 2021, ran on a legion of staff and volunteers from all walks of life, and their positivity and hard work led to many describing the location as “the happiest place on earth.”
Students were an integral throughout the clinic’s lifespan. Medical students and pharmacy students contributed to the impressive work of the clinic – over to 75,000 shots provided across six months. On top of completing schoolwork through a pandemic, these students contributed their time and expertise to support dose preparation and administration at the clinic.
“It's been fantastic to have learners contribute so much to the vaccination team and our community in this inter-professional environment,” says Joseph Lee, physician and lead with the Centre for Family Medicine. “I hope they reflect on this experience and how it's underscored the importance of teamwork. The pharmacy and medical students have been superstars!”
Here are reflections from two of those students:
Rob Dydynsky, medical student and clinic staff
Rob was a vaccinator at the clinic which involved screening patients, discussing vaccine concerns and administering vaccines.
“The McMaster MD Class of 2023’s clinical experiences have been heavily hindered by COVID. For us, there was a draw to work at the vaccination clinic to introduce ourselves to the clinical environment. The clinic threw us right into deciphering patient eligibility, having patient discussions over concerns around treatment, and some hands-on ‘procedural’ work – awesome experiences! The experience, combined with the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the province’s efforts against COVID-19, was ideal. Also, we can only imagine how cool it will be to tell our kids and grandkids about this as our first clinical experience!”
Pruntha Kanagasundaram, pharmacy student and clinic staff
Pruntha supported both the dose preparation teams and the vaccine administration teams at the clinic.
“I feel extremely proud to have supported the HSC clinic during this challenging time. I contributed to a tremendous effort to keep members of the community safe and to address vaccine hesitancy among people from many different walks of life. Many individuals came in with uncertainty, questions and hesitancy about the vaccine, and left the clinic better informed and confident that they are doing their part to protect one another.
To have met people from such diverse backgrounds, and to be a source of information, comfort and guidance through times of uncertainty, was a tremendous privilege that I will always remember.”
Many thanks to all the students who supported this clinic and who continue to support the vaccine effort throughout Ontario.