Nursing students continue vaccinations after joining National COVID-19 Community Engagement Pledge

Senior nursing major Ranita Donaby from Centralia, Illinois, administers COVID-19 vaccine to East St. Louis resident Odessa Vonner.

While administering the COVID-19 vaccine to the public, the School of Nursing signed this pledge in a way of saying they’re committed to keeping the public safe.


Since Jan. 21, senior nursing student Domonique Dones, of Belleville, Illinois, has been participating in multiple vaccine clinics. A month in, she said the clinics have given her an experience she will carry on to her professional career as a nurse.


“SIUE’s nursing program truly gives us a lot of hands-on and real life experience,” Dones said. “Despite the pandemic, they have continued to provide us with clinical experience and keeping everyone safe at the same time.”


Mid-December, the U.S. received its first doses of the coronavirus vaccine. About a month later, SIUE got their first doses, of which were given to members of the School of Dental Medicine

Now SIUE’s nursing students are able to continue the vaccination process by administering them to phases 1A and 1B.


These phases include health care personnel, residents of long-term care facilities, people over the age of 75 and non-health care frontline essential workers, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health

Nursing Associate Professor Amelia Perez said the Madison County Health Department and the East Side Health District are the groups providing local vaccine clinics. 


“We have faculty that go there and have built relationships with those agencies for several years,” Perez said. “Because of [the faculty’s] relationships that they have with the students at SIUE and these agencies, when they were starting to plan these clinics they contacted the two faculty and invited them [and their students] to help with the vaccination clinics.”


Before the pandemic, Perez said nursing students enrolled in the care of populations course practiced vaccinations by administering the flu shot. 


“Students would get engaged in influenza vaccinations and those types of experiences, health fairs and things like that,” Perez said. “This was an additional experience. [The students] feel like, ‘Wow we’re in this pandemic and we’re helping to be part of the solution.”


Senior nursing student Ranita Donaby, of Centralia, Illinois, said she is getting a unique experience by participating in the vaccine clinics.


“I’m very happy to be involved [with] giving out vaccines and just helping slow the curve [of] the people [who] are getting infected with the coronavirus,” Donaby said.


Not only are the nursing students administering the vaccine, Perez said they are also helping in other areas during the clinics. 


“They are also [helping] teach about the vaccine, about its benefits [and] what to watch out for,” Perez said. “They’re not only doing the administration of the vaccines but they’re also doing health education … keeping the flow of everyone coming in [organized.]”


Donaby said after a person has been given the vaccine, they don’t leave right away. The person has to be monitored to make sure they don’t have any reactions to the vaccine. 


“We stand there and watch for 15 minutes and make sure they don’t have any adverse reactions or anything like that. We want to catch it before it happens,” Donaby said.


Depending on the person getting the vaccine, Donaby said people who are at higher risk can sit up to 30 minutes for observation before they can leave.

With the pandemic taking away a lot of in-person learning for students, Dones said she is happy to have participated with the vaccine clinics and to be able to do it in-person.


“Clinicals have been great,” Dones said. “We give over 100 COVID-19 vaccinations each week. It is truly encouraging to see the community still working together during the pandemic.”


For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health website.

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