Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Valley nursing students assisted in administering vaccines at one of the nation’s largest COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
By Marcos Franco, News Editor
Students and faculty from the Valley College Nursing Department worked alongside clinicians and fellow nurses to help administer COVID-19 vaccines at Dodger Stadium during the winter break.
Sixteen students volunteered for four weeks under the supervision of Nursing Program Director Preethamol Puthiakunnel and others where they helped facilitate 10,000 vaccines a day. The operation was organized by the Los Angeles Fire Department in conjunction with the Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), a nonprofit organization aiming to save lives and strengthen communities affected by a crisis, founded by film actor Sean Penn. Each student worked two 8-hour shifts a week, arriving at 6:30 a.m. and leaving at 2:30 p.m.
“What really stood out to me was how grateful the public was,” said Yang-mi Dixon, a 46-year-old nursing student at Valley. “No one complained about wait times, but rather made sure to tell us how thankful they were that we were out there administering vaccines - especially on the days it was raining.”
In Los Angeles, lack of adequate staffing has stood in between maximizing vaccine distribution. Since the county requires physicians to commit to 10.5 hour days if they choose to help, resulting in a full day away from patients at the office, there is a high demand for qualified volunteers.
While most students had previous experience in administering intramuscular injections from their time in labs and volunteering in hospitals, those who did not completed a skills lab before arriving on their first day.
Prior to volunteering at Dodger Stadium, the same group of students rotated shifts at UCLA’s Olive View Medical Center in Sylmar. During their time there, students were not able to receive the vaccines themselves due to lack of supply. However, upon arrival at Dodger Stadium, they were given the first shot of a double dose vaccine and received the second injection last week.
Not only did Dodger Stadium recently become home of the 2020 World Series Champions, but the ballpark now serves as one of the largest vaccination sites in the nation. Since opening for vaccine distribution on Jan. 15, the stadium has increased the number of daily vaccines available from 2,500 to 12,000.
The test site was forced to temporarily close last Friday due to lack of Moderna shots, the primary dose of the vaccine, and is expected to reopen on Feb. 16 despite continued supply problems. As a result of the shortage, the majority of shots administered will be Pfizer doses.
Dixon, who lost her grandmother to COVID-19 last April, is grateful the vaccine is now being distributed and looks forward to it becoming accessible to anyone who wants it.
“This pandemic has been unprecedented in our lifetimes and serves as profound confirmation of the importance of nurses in caring for those who are not well,” said Dixon.