Eastern Kentucky University nursing students are volunteering to help Madison County and surrounding communities administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Melanie Adams-Johnson RN, clinical coordinator for Eastern Kentucky School of Nursing, said senior nursing students who are currently enrolled in a public health nursing clinical course at EKU would be ready to deploy to local health departments and other designated COVID-19 vaccination sites in Central Kentucky this semester.

Adams-Johnson said about 50 students would be ready to head to their designated sites by Jan. 26.

"They will be working in collaboration with each of these clinical sites to administer vaccinations and provide patient education and assist with coordination efforts for those vaccinations clinics," Adams-Johnson said.

"All of these students (the senior nursing students) are competent and skilled at giving vaccinations," Adams-Johnson explained. "They give vaccinations routinely in the hospitals with all of their clinical rotations and experiences... They've received their training. They've all been vetted with the Kentucky Department for Public Health. They're ready to go."

She said COVID-19 vaccines are not extraordinarily different than the vaccines students have been working with during their time as nursing students at EKU.

Adams-Johnson noted every semester there are EKU School of Nursing students who participate in a public health nursing class assigned to clinical experiences and work in communities across the service region to provide nursing care to the population.

"This particular semester, we have a wonderful opportunity to respond in collaboration with the same community partners that our faculty and students always work with," Adams-Johnson said. "To really fulfill this need and respond with them in this particular responsibility."

Though the students already know how to administer vaccines, Adams-Johnsons explains the experience will offer a chance for students to learn new things through volunteering their time.

"The students are learning how to participate in mass vaccination clinics in collaboration with our community partners, and part of that review is the technique for immunizations and specifically review the clinical guidance that has been provided for the currently licensed vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer," Adams-Johnson said.

EKU will continue to partner with the community agencies throughout the rollout of the vaccination efforts in Madison County and the surrounding counties. Once the current group of nursing students graduates, Adams-Johnson said there would be another group of students coming on board as senior public health students in the summer and in the fall.

"We do not currently have any additional doses of the vaccine," Adams-Johnson said. "But, as we receive them, our partnerships across the community will be ready to get as many people in our community vaccinated as safely and as soon as possible."

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