Published March 12, 2021
As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Western New York increases pace, the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SPPS) is playing a key role in the community.
SPPS students, alumni and faculty assisted at vaccination clinics held at the Kenmore Senior Center in Kenmore, NY, and Solstice Senior Living in East Amherst, NY. The clinics were supported by Operation Immunization, an initiative of the UB chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP).
At Solstice Senior Living, the theme of the day was “Kicking COVID Out.” Nearly 100 residents lined up for their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Alumnus-owned Buffalo Pharmacies (Joseph Voelkl, BS '59) supplied the vaccine, with John Horton, BS '88, overseeing the event.
The excitement in the room was palpable. “After giving one patient the shot, she wanted a photo of her and I to send to her daughter,” says Eric Bianchi, PharmD ’23.
Across town, more than 300 residents were vaccinated at the Kenmore Senior Center. This ambitious clinic administered both first and second doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Faculty members Karl Fiebelkorn, BS ’78, Senior Associate Dean, and Christopher Daly, PharmD/MBA ’12, Clinical Assistant Professor, assisted the pharmacy students, along with alumnus (and photographer) Donald Daly, BS ‘79. Vaccines for the Kenmore clinic were provided by Ivy Lea Pharmacy (Charles Barone, owner).
“These clinics are unique in their urgency and their scope,” says Christopher Daly. “Our past flu vaccine clinics had, on average, 30 or 40 patients. The COVID-19 vaccine clinics are seeing hundreds of patients.”
Students have adapted well to the new circumstances, and have become more aware of their responsibilities as health care providers. Their patient counseling training, in particular, has proven to be invaluable.
“Since we get so much practice on how to talk to a patient through our counseling simulations, we already have a template on how to explain things like side effects and managing them,” says Evelyn Wang, PharmD ‘22. “Being a pharmacist is much more than just dispensing drugs to patients.”
The school is planning to continue weekly COVID-19 vaccine clinics throughout the community this spring.
Assistant Director, Communications and Alumni Relations