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  • Somerset County's health dept. partnered with UMES for a COVID vaccination clinic

    Thursday, April 8, 2021
    Mona Gassama, left, and public health nurse Lauren Bennett

    A steady stream of UMES students, faculty and staff took advantage of an on-campus COVID vaccine clinic today, a turnout that left organizers encouraged that headway is being made in the fight against the pandemic. 

    President Heidi M. Anderson, who is already fully vaccinated, and Dr. Rondall E. Allen, dean of UMES' School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, were among campus leaders on hand when the doors opened in the Student Services Center's ballroom. 

    Waiting inside was a well-oiled machine of healthcare professionals; staffers from the Somerset County health department, students and faculty from the university's pharmacy school and counterparts from Salisbury University.  At the end of the first, four-hour clinic, 102 vaccines were administered, according to Dr. Lana S. Sherr, an associate professor of pharmacy and Assistant Dean for Professional Affairs. (A second clinic was added April 12.)

    A county health department spokeswoman said the agency used the same template to deliver the first dose of the Moderna vaccine at UMES as it has at the department's headquarters in Westover the past several weeks, including participation of pharmacy students who administer the shots. 

    Everyone who received a shot on campus during the four-hour clinic was automatically given a May 6 appointment to receive the mandatory second dose.  UMES' spring commencement is Friday, May 14. 

    Among the first students to receive a vaccine was Mona Gassama, a junior biology major from Lanham, Md. 

    “I decided to do it because my parents are older, I don't want to put them at risk,” Gassama said.  Her mother, she said, is a nurse and is vaccinated.

    2nd year PharmD student Safiya Nur

    Fredrick Adeoye said both his parents also work in the healthcare field and got their vaccines in January, so “it just made sense when this (opportunity) came up that I should do it, too.” 

    “It was a given for me,” the junior engineering major from Hyattsville, Md. said. 

    Then there was Shellyann Henry, a first-year doctoral student in food and agricultural sciences. 

    “As a student and a mother, it is my responsibility to ensure that those around me are safe,” the mother of four said.  “One such way of doing so is to get vaccinated.” 

    UMES faculty members Lana Sherr, Nancy Rodriquez-Weller and Hoai-an Truong were on hand pitching in and observing their students administer the vaccines to peers and employees. 

    “It's been going very well,” Truong said.  “We're very encouraged by the turnout.” 

    Truong said the pandemic has afforded pharmacy students and instructors a rare opportunity to join the frontlines of combatting the spread of a rare, deadly virus that overwhelmed the world in 2020. 

    Those receiving the vaccination were closely monitored for a minimum of 15 minutes to guard against any potential allergic reactions.  UMES employee-volunteers sported “This is my fighting COVID-19 shirt” -- and masks, of course -- to help guide those who came out through the process. 

    One of those volunteer was senior Tiahara Hamilton of Baltimore who will graduate in December with a rehabilitation psychology degree.  She said working as a volunteer made her feel she was making a contribution toward good public health practices.