By Johannes Becht
In order to fight COVID-19, 5.9 million people have received a first vaccine in the United States so far, among them 86,000 in Oklahoma. This is more than 2% of the total population that has been initiated a vaccination in the Sooner State.
This number continues to rise. On Friday, Jan. 8, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., a mass vaccination event took place in the Pioneer Cellular Event Center on the SWOSU campus in Weatherford. People 65 years and older could get an appointment to receive a COVID-19 shot.
“We have 240 appointments plus 60 front line workers, so all in all around 300 shots,” SWOSU Rural Health Center Coordinator Randy Curry said, adding: “We want to ramp this up over the next weeks; I hope we will have more than 300 shots. We are ready. We have the manpower, the facilities and the experience to do these types of clinics.”
On one table, the vaccine (Pfitzer) is prepared to be used. “Once the vaccine is in the refrigerator, we have 5 days to use it. Once we take the vaccine out of the refrigerator, we have 6 hours to use it,” said Steve Drinnon, assistant professor from the School of Pharmacy.
The actual vaccine is mixed up with sodium chloride. Occasionally, there is a little more liquid in the bottle – “and we are using all we can,” Drinnon said. That’s why sometimes one bottle can be used for 6 or even 7 doses.
The vaccination clinics are possible also because pharmacy and nursing students from SWOSU as well as off-campus volunteers are helping out, such as Brianne Kirchgessner.
“As pharmacy students, we really wanted to volunteer,” she said.
Many people around the globe, especially young ones, are suspicious of the new vaccine, criticizing, among others, the little knowledge about possible long-term health effects and the comparably short time to develop the vaccine.
What does pharmacy student Kirchgessner think about that? “I believe in it 100%. It came out fast because it had to be. It (vaccinations) has been done for hundred years.” Randy Curry adds: “The vaccine is good and necessary.”
The next vaccination clinic at SWOSU will take place on Friday, Jan. 15. Curry: “We will be here for the next few months.”