Last Updated on March 19, 2021 5:53 pm
BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University hosted its first COVID-19 vaccine clinic March 11–12 at the Holmes Convocation Center, where the university’s M.S. Shook Student Health Service staff and Department of Nursing students administered 680 doses of the vaccine over the two-day period.
“The opening of our COVID-19 vaccine center is a momentous occasion in the history of our university and represents a critical step forward in returning to primarily in-person working and learning environments,” said App State Chancellor Sheri Everts. “I am tremendously relieved and grateful to the enormous number of people who have worked so hard to make this happen.”
App State was approved to be a community vaccination distribution center by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). The university is assisting in North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan for rural areas by administering COVID-19 vaccines to staff, faculty, students and community members, based on eligibility criteria set by NCDHHS.
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, which requires just one dose to be administered, was used during App State’s first clinic.
Clinics will be held at the university each week, as long as there is a need and a supply of vaccine allotments provided by the state, said Jason Marshburn, director of App State’s Department of Environmental Health, Safety, and Emergency Management.
App State is managing the full process from start to finish, Marshburn said. Watauga Medics (EMS) has provided on-site staff to assist with any medical emergencies that may arise.
Launching App State’s vaccine center has been a team effort, with the university’s Emergency Management team partnering with staff from Student Health Service and Holmes Convocation Center. The university’s experience with flu vaccine clinics and blood drives — combined with its ability to manage large events — helped lay the groundwork and allowed the team to quickly develop an effective plan for the COVID-19 clinics, Marshburn said.
The center has capacity to provide 1,000-plus shots per clinic, dependent on supply and demand.
Sixty-five university employees and students, including those from Student Health Service, Holmes Convocation Center and the following units, have set up and are staffing the vaccine center:
- Department of Nursing faculty and students.
- Office of the Dean of Students staff.
- Wellness and Prevention Services staff.
- Campus Dining staff members who have been reassigned to work with the university’s COVID-19 response team.
- Emergency Management staff.
Members of the Appalachian Police Department, along with App State Department of Parking and Transportation personnel and volunteers from campus, were also assisting on-site during the first clinic.
App State’s first COVID-19 vaccine clinic
This behind-the-scenes video shares some details about App State’s on-campus vaccine center, which was set up and is staffed by university employees from multiple campus units and students.
The center was set up in the arena of the Holmes Convocation Center, with vaccination stations, privacy stations for those who may need to lie down and a waiting area with chairs spaced 6 feet apart, where patients were observed for 15–30 minutes post-vaccination to ensure no immediate side effects occurred.
One of the registered nurses from Student Health Service on-site during the first clinic, Kimberly Rushing, shared her excitement about the clinic, saying, “This is like our own March Madness!”
Rushing said she and the other staff had reviewed COVID-19 vaccine guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and were tested on the information prior to the clinic.
Nursing students from the Beaver College of Health Sciences — who were administering vaccines and observing patients during the waiting period — also prepared for the clinic according to CDC guidelines, said Chesnee Sheehan, a senior nursing major from Canton.
Dr. Michele Rudisill, a clinical instructor in App State’s Department of Nursing, oversaw the student nurses during the clinic. “We are glad to be a part of this effort,” she said. “It is a great learning opportunity for the students and a good way for them to interact with the community.”
Each week, NCDHHS works with different vaccination sites to determine distribution plans and decide which vaccine is sent, which may vary week to week.
The university continues to offer campuswide COVID-19 testing events twice weekly and conducts daily testing in Student Health Service, as well as targeted testing with specific student populations as needed.