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Student Volunteer Corps Staffing COVID Vaccine Clinics in Hard Hit Communities

May 26, 2021
Healthcare professional giving a COVID-19 vaccination shot

Students from Baystate's Interprofessional Student Volunteer Corps have been working at vaccination clinics for communities hardest hit by COVID-19.

400 Total Volunteer Hours So Far

Twenty-seven students from seven health professions programs in the Springfield area—including UMMS-Baystate's PURCH track—recently volunteered 123 hours at Behavioral Health Network COVID vaccination clinics on Liberty Street in Springfield and at Gateway Arts in Holyoke.

Earlier this year, 16 medical students in the PURCH track volunteered 174 hours in vaccination clinics at Baystate's three community health centers in Brightwood, Mason Square, and High Street.

All sites distributed vaccines from Massachusetts's Vaccine Equity Initiative.

Students Are Able to Fill a Variety of Roles

Students performed a variety of tasks at each site—giving shots, registering patients, serving as patient navigators, delivering vaccines and supplies, and observing patients post-vaccine.

"Health professions volunteers are an integral part of getting the vaccines to communities that are far away, physically or logistically, from mass vaccination centers," said Ben Potee, first year PURCH student who does coordination work for the volunteers. "From a public health perspective, the only way to achieve herd immunity and take care of people hardest hit by this pandemic is to improve equity in vaccine distribution."

Interprofessional Student Volunteer Corps Evolving to Meet Needs

The Interprofessional Student Volunteer Corps was initiated by PURCH students as a pandemic response. It has expanded its scope to include other health professions students and to respond to other needs, crises, and emergencies in our region by partnering with community organizations that address health inequities that disproportionately affect our most underserved populations.

Looking ahead, 93 students from PURCH, Westfield State University School of Nursing, Western New England School of Pharmacy, BayPath PA Program, Springfield College PA School, and UMass Amherst College of Nursing have signed up to be notified of future ISVC programs.