116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Tracy Tran paused just a second before jabbing a needle into Kendal Newman’s upper arm. It was the first intramuscular shot Tran, 21, of Davenport, has given a real person and she wanted to get it right.
“The most scary part is poking the person and having them have a reaction to it,” Tran said. “You want it to be done right, but also fast.”
Nearly 100 first-year pharmacy students completed their 10-week vaccination training Tuesday by drawing up and administering a subcutaneous injection — like the measles, mumps and rubella shot — and an intramuscular shot — like the COVID-19 vaccine. The shots Tuesday were saline, but soon the students will be certified to give real vaccinations at pharmacies across the Midwest.
Zach Nunemaker, 23, of Solon, works at NuCara Pharmacy in Iowa City, where he may be involved in administering the COVID-19 vaccines. He also plans to volunteer at some vaccine clinics this summer as Iowa seeks to expand coronavirus immunity.
“It’s rewarding to be a part of it,” he said.
Not only do students learn how to give shots, what’s in the vials and how to spot a medical condition that could cause problems for the patient, but they also have to talk with patients who are hesitant to get vaccinated. Although Americans’ willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine is growing, there is reluctance among some groups, including younger adults, Black adults and rural residents, according to a report published in February by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
News Tuesday that the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration temporarily suspended use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after six women developed blood clots may increase hesitancy among some people.
But Laura Knockel, a clinical assistant professor in the UI College of Pharmacy, said she thinks the pause is a good sign. “It’s evidence our system is safe,” she said. Knockel and other faculty helps train students to talk with patients about the research behind vaccines and the potential risks and benefits.
“We can understand and be empathetic, but we want to get them on board,” Newman added.
Christina Sudyk, in her second year as a UI pediatric resident in pharmacy, observed Newman and Tran, offering advice and evaluating their technique. She suggested moving the container for spent needles to the same side as the injection site to reduce the odds of dropping a needle, which could possibly jab the pharmacist.
“You never want to put the sharps container on the opposite side,” Sudyk said.
Sarah Mooney, another second-year pediatric resident, said she’s had time to develop ways of helping children with shots. “With kids, you want to engage them as well as their parents. Getting them involved in their health early on is important,” she said.
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