Published on April 22, 2021 by Sarah Waller  

Over three days, Samford University administered more than 1,550 doses of the Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to students, employees and members of the local community. Through a partnership with Encompass Health Lakeshore, Samford was notified of the opportunity to receive these doses on a Wednesday; the clinic opened its doors the following week.

“When we secured such a large quantity of the vaccine, the entire Samford community stepped up,” said Colin Coyne, chief strategy officer at Samford. “This vaccination clinic has been an intensely collaborative with more than a hundred Samford employees and students across multiple departments working to organize, communicate and facilitate an event of this scale.”

The clinic was staffed by 50 people each day, and they worked at a pace of 18 vaccinations every 5 minutes. “In my eight years at Samford, this is among the top three experiences I’ve had. Watching these incredible students showcase their acumen alongside those who taught them to be professionals was humbling.  Witnessing their kindness, grace, and compassion was just incredible,” Coyne said.

Just a few weeks prior, the university held a smaller vaccination clinic, administering approximately 396 doses to high-risk employees and students.

A public health student and the university's mascot, Sam, outside of the on campus vaccination clinic

Students and employees within the four schools of Samford’s College of Health Sciences, including the School of Health Professions, Moffett & Sanders School of Nursing, McWhorter School of Pharmacy and the School of Public Health, comprised the clinic’s staff, volunteering their time and serving in integral roles. 

Public health students—as well as students in the School of Health Professions’ physician assistant studies program—helped administratively, taking temperatures of those entering the clinic and screening individuals for medical eligibility. Pharmacy and nursing students administered every vaccine that was given, and additionally, pharmacy students worked behind the scenes to reconstitute the vaccine and draw up doses.

“This clinic is interprofessional education in action,” said Melissa Lumpkin, interim dean of Samford’s School of Public Health. “We teach our students that health care cannot be administered by a single profession, but instead, it’s a team-based approach to care. Here, public health, nursing and pharmacy students are working side-by-side to care for individuals—and ultimately protect the Samford community.”

Nursing and pharmacy students are trained in giving injections as part of their respected programs, enabling them to administer vaccines at students. So, while this experience was not new for them, it was made sweeter because the community they were able to serve was their own.

“It truly was an honor to play a part in something as great as vaccinating and providing protection to our Samford family,” said Aly York, a fourth-year Doctor of Pharmacy student. “I had the opportunity to be part of the COVID vaccine clinic on four different days, and I heard so many stories of how COVID has changed us and how much hope we all have for a brighter future. It really was such an incredible thing to be part of—vaccinating our deans, faculty and staff, fellow students and even their families.”

Talking to the students involved, many cited that this was an experience they would never forget. “Even though it’s just poking an arm, it’s a good thing to remember that this work will protect our community,” said Caroline Thomas, a senior nursing major. “Sure, we are not giving CPR or calling a code, but a little poke can go a long way.”

A group picture of the Samford students and employees staffing the COVID-19 vaccination clinic on campus.