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Published November 12, 2020
University of Wyoming pharmacy students collaborated with the Laramie Downtown Clinic to administer free flu vaccinations to Albany County residents.
Members of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) student chapter at the UW School of Pharmacy volunteered at the Downtown Clinic in Laramie to give flu shots to uninsured and underinsured members of the Laramie and surrounding Albany County communities.
The work of these student volunteers -- when protecting community health -- is of critical importance, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, says Downtown Clinic Director Pete Gosar.
“The Downtown Clinic has collaborated on annual flu clinics and client chart reviews with the NCPA chapter at the UW School of Pharmacy for many years,” Gosar says.
The clinic recently received a grant to fund increased efforts in reaching vulnerable community members.
“We now have a mobile flu clinic, which has given student volunteers at the Downtown Clinic a new opportunity to help our staff and volunteers expand services in our community,” Gosar says.
The mobile flu clinic is staffed by UW pharmacy students and can be found at various locations throughout Laramie to help reach more individuals, especially those who may not be aware of the Downtown Clinic’s operations.
The Downtown Clinic’s grant, through the Wyoming Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health, provides 500 free flu vaccinations to high-priority, uninsured and underinsured low-income people throughout Albany County. The grant helped purchase the mobile vaccination equipment, flu vaccines and offset the salary of a flu vaccine coordinator. Funding from the grant covers a one-year period.
For NCPA student volunteers, business has been brisk. On average, students see 10-20 patients a week, with a special time set aside Thursdays from 5-6 p.m. for administering flu shots. No appointments are required.
“We would like that to increase so that all 500 flu vaccinations are given by the end of this year,” Gosar says.
Melissa Hunter, Drug Information Center director with the UW School of Pharmacy and NCPA faculty liaison, has been an advocate for the Downtown Clinic. She has been instrumental in helping to develop and support collaborations with pharmacy student volunteers.
“I am so proud of my NCPA students for their dedication to the community and their relationship with the Downtown Clinic that has grown over the past three years,” Hunter says. “The interdisciplinary work that the students perform with the clinic staff benefits everyone involved.”
Gosar is appreciative of the collaboration with the UW School of Pharmacy.
“We are truly grateful for the work of Dr. Hunter and the UW NCPA students who have made this wonderful collaboration possible,” he says.
Carrie Monroe, a third-year pharmacy student from Buffalo, notes the benefits of her experience volunteering at the Downtown Clinic.
“The flu clinic is a great opportunity to connect with Laramie residents, receive practical career experience and work with an experienced team to provide overall whole-patient care,” Monroe says. “We are privileged to be part of this experience and give back to the community.”
The Downtown Clinic immunization project has made an impact on many members of the Laramie community, says Jada Jensen, a third-year pharmacy student from Bingham, Neb.
“From the students volunteering time to the improvement of the entire community's health, the Downtown Clinic is providing an invaluable service,” Jensen says. “We are so thankful to have the opportunity to give back to the community and gain experience by helping with the immunization project.”
Rachel Meier, a fourth-year pharmacy student from Corona, Calif., adds that the value of reaching out to assist community members is part of the experience students receive.
“I am fortunate to attend a school in a town that cares so much about its community,” Meier says. “Administering annual flu shots at no cost to patients is work I am proud to do every year. Thank you, Downtown Clinic, for providing high-quality health care to the individuals of Laramie.”
Third-year student Fraisher Morales, from San Diego, Calif., says the immunization program is an opportunity to interact with Laramie residents.
“It establishes a mutual relationship between students and Laramie, where students practice clinical skills, and people in the community receive protection from the flu,” Morales says.
To receive a free flu shot at the Downtown Clinic, or to learn more about the mobile flu clinic schedule and locations, call (307) 745-8445 or visit www.downtownclinic.org.
UW pharmacy students participating in the flu vaccination program were:
Alamosa, Colo. -- Mariah Smith.
Bingham, Neb. -- Jada Jensen.
Bishop, Calif. -- Kirsten Underwood.
Brush, Colo. -- Grayson Simmons.
Buffalo -- Carrie Monroe.
Caracas, Venezuela -- Marcela Gramcko Wietstruck.
Corona, Calif. -- Rachel Meier.
Eaton, Colo. -- Tyler Zink.
Green River -- Lexie Frint.
Jackson -- Sierra Barlow.
Nebraska City, Neb. -- Justin Schomerus.
Pavillion -- Ben Zoller.
Ridgecrest, Calif. -- Rachel Williams.
Rock Springs -- Mara Madsen.
San Diego, Calif. -- Fraisher Morales.
Sheridan -- Kailee Becking.