How 2 universities are joining COVID vaccination effort

Universities providing vaccination courses and serving as distribution sites
By: | January 12, 2021
Husson University held its first COVID vaccination training for pharmacy workers on Jan. 9. (Photo: Kevin Bennet)Husson University held its first COVID vaccination training for pharmacy workers on Jan. 9. (Photo: Kevin Bennet)

Universities large and small, along with their students and leaders, are joining the Herculean effort to vaccine more than 328 million Americans against COVID.

Husson University in Maine is ready to build a “vaccination army” by helping to train the pharmacists to administer the shots.

The school is now offering courses to any licensed pharmacist whether they are Husson students or community members.

The classes include a six-hour course for pharmacy technicians  focused specifically on administering the vaccine and responding to emergencies.


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Licensed pharmacists and interns can take a 20-hour course that also covers the appropriate use of vaccines, indications and contraindications.

Unlike in other states, pharmacists’ and pharmacy technicians’ ability to administer vaccinations is new to Maine, and made possible by Congress’ Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. 

Spring ‘testing blitz’

On the other side of the country, the University of Arizona will become a vaccine distribution point later this month.

The university will help with vaccinations for priority populations, including people who are 75 and older; education and child care providers at the K-12 and higher education levels; and first responders such as law enforcement, corrections officers, firefighters and other emergency response staff.

The university’s spring semester starts on Wednesday, with essential courses such as research labs and performing arts classes held in person.

During a spring “testing blitz” for students that has been underway since Jan. 6, 6,184 tests have been administered with 108 positive results, for a positivity rate of 1.7%.

Students moving into dorms must first test negative for the virus, and they must be tested weekly for COVID, the university said in a news release.


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All students and staff are also required to enroll in the university’s Wildcat WellCheck program, a screening service that sends daily health questions via text or email.

The university has also created a Campus Area Response Team—a partnership between the campus police and the Tucson Police Department—to crack down on large gatherings in the campus area.

“We have seen an improvement in the number of hospitalizations and other indications for the local health system,” President Robert C. Robbins said. “This is a good sign, but we also need to remember that some of the impacts of travel and gatherings over the holiday season have yet to appear, and we may see infections (and) hospitalizations rise again.”