UPDATE: Due to severe weather, shipments of COVID-19 vaccines have been delayed which will affect the vaccine clinics scheduled for the Robeson County Health Department on Friday, February 19, and Saturday, February 20. Only those individuals receiving second doses will be provided during the clinics. Interested individuals can register by calling 910-671-3220 or email email@example.com.
In the coming weeks, nursing students from UNC Pembroke will be getting plenty of practical experience in the field. The university was recently approved as a new COVID-19 vaccine provider in an effort to increase the availability of the vaccine in Robeson County.
“Vaccinating our community against COVID is a critical way we can protect each other, and UNC Pembroke is proud to take part in these important efforts,” said UNCP Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. “Barriers to access exist in our communities and the goal with our mobile clinics is to remove obstacles and making sure the vaccine is available to everyone.
“Having recently received my second dose, I am highly encouraged by our progress in Robeson County and am honored to continue our partnership with the Health Department in the fight against this virus.”
County Health Director Bill Smith is grateful for the extra shots in the community.
“A silver lining of the pandemic has been creating an even closer working arrangement between the health department, the university and the nursing program. Public health has slipped backwards over the years as a part of the profession’s preparation, and events that we have jointly worked on have reinforced some of those principles to the benefit of the community as well as the students. We sincerely appreciate their involvement with this clinic,” Smith said.
While vaccination efforts have been running smoothly throughout the county, there remain portions of the population for whom access is a challenge.
To meet the need, the university will deploy special mobile health units to take vaccinations directly to where they are needed most in the community including a mass vaccination site at the Robeson County Health Department and visits to long-term care facilities throughout the county.
Through a collaborative partnership of Robeson County Health Department, North Carolina Emergency Management and the UNC System, UNCP was able to work through the requirements and approval process to prepare to deliver shots to more than 500 individuals in their first allotment.
“The faster we can distribute these vaccines, the faster we can get North Carolinians back to work, back to family gatherings, back to normal life,” said UNC System President Peter Hans. “Our public universities will do everything in their power to bring that day closer.”
Earlier this year, the UNC System orchestrated Operation Deep Freeze ensuring 15 campuses in the System were able to acquire freezers capable of storing and transporting vaccines at sub-zero temperatures.
UNCP nursing students are currently in the process of getting the appropriate training for the distribution and will begin their efforts the week of February 22.
The real-world learning experiences during the pandemic have proven valuable for UNCP’s nursing students like senior Kate Titus, who were afforded an opportunity to practice skills they are learning about in the classroom. Titus was among the nursing students and nursing faculty who assisted UNC Health Southeastern last week with a COVID vaccination event in St. Pauls.
Titus administered vaccines to more than 60 individuals that day.
“Intramuscular injections are a huge part of nurses’ jobs and this experience gave me the opportunity to utilize and enhance those skills. We are going to be dealing with COVID for the foreseeable future, so if we can get out and reach much of the population to be vaccinated, we will be able to get a better handle on this virus.”
The first UNCP-led vaccination efforts will be held at the Robeson County Health Department on Friday, February 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, February 20, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. The health department is located at 460 Country Club Road in Lumberton. Interested individuals can register by calling 910.671.3220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the week of February 22-26, the team will be visiting long-term care facilities throughout Robeson County administering the vaccines. Starting the week of March 1, UNCP will be scheduling mobile sites across Robeson County with priority given to establishing sites in under-resourced areas.