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UW-Green Bay nursing students prepare to help COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 3:49 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -Nursing students at UW-Green Bay are getting ready to help with the state’s vaccination effort.

“As we understand it, the local health departments are in a position where they don’t have the capacity to launch a massive vaccination clinic throughout the whole state,” said Christine Vandenhouten, Chair of Nursing and Health Studies at UWGB.

In an effort to increase the vaccine rollout the state enlisted the help of the National Guard and local nursing and pharmacy programs.

“They are requesting us to provide a list of students and our volunteers to be part of the vaccination arm of that program and so we are prepared as nurses and nursing faculty to supervise the students, while they are vaccinating students at these COVID clinics,” said Vandenhouten.

Vandenhouten said she doesn’t know when her students will be called into action or where they might be going as details continue to be worked out.

“It could mean that students or faculty are picked up at the UW Green Bay site, travel with the National Guard to the location of the clinic and provide the services and then travel back to the university so it’s entirely possible that we would support a clinic in Menominee County or Vilas County,” aid Vandehouten.

Vandenhouten said it could make a big difference, especially in smaller areas across the state.

“What we know today is that they are going to have clinics, perhaps all over the state or at least be available, to provide vaccination support across the state. We know that particularly in our rural areas that that is a very big challenge to have the appropriate and number of staff available,” said Vandenhouten.

The students would get academic credit, but more importantly, real-world experience at a time when nurses are desperately needed.

“Can you imagine a better learning experience when we talk about emergency management or pandemic preparedness which is a content area we teach to our students. I mean they get to see it roll out in real-time in real life, and that is a rather unique experience,” said Vandenhouten.

As Action 2 News previously reported, UW-Systems Board of Regents President Andrew Petersen said he would like the schools to become a vaccination distribution hub.

“We’ve got the physical assets in 13 regions of the state. We’ve got a proven track record of delivering on testing... So we’re very optimistic that as a durable vaccine comes onto the scene in, hopefully the first quarter of 2021, the UW system can play somewhat of a non- conventional role, but a real community partner role to deliver vaccines based on who’s on that list in the first tranche,” said Petersen.

“There are talks right now for UW-Green Bay to potentially be a vaccine distribution site. It makes good sense we have already used the Weidner center area for that. Testing community testing. So I believe, while I’m not privy to any conversations about that, I am sure that’s part of the conversation that the Chancellor’s are having,” said Vandenhouten.

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