Indiana University medical students sign up to help administer COVID-19 vaccines

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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana needs support for its COVID-19 vaccine deployment and already hundreds of medical students have answered the call for help.

State health officials requested Indiana University School of Medicine to train students who will be on-call to administer vaccines. Within two weeks of the ask, more than 400 medical students had answered that call and an additional 209 IU nursing students signed up to help the vaccination effort.

Right now, primarily first and second-year medical students are coming forward to volunteer.

Brandon Toliver, a first-year medical student, signed up for this unique opportunity.

“This is probably one of the biggest volunteer opportunities that I will ever have,” he said.

As soon as next week, he could be giving a vaccine to front line workers in Indiana. Frontline workers are receiving the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Indiana and more people will get a vaccination in the weeks and months to come.

“Such a unique experience to be able to have to provide potentially some relief,” he said.

Students completed online training on how to administer intramuscular vaccines and then they practiced the technique on manikins in the Stimulation Center at Fairbanks Hall on the IUPUI campus.

The university will be able to train and mobilize student volunteers quickly to provide vaccines where needed because the School of Medicine has nine campuses and clinical partners statewide.

“This allows someone else do the vaccines, so we don’t have to take time out of our schedules to help administer vaccine,” said Dr. Dylan Cooper, said Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine at IU School of Medicine.

Dr. Cooper trained students and he’s also an emergency medicine physician at Eskenazi Health. He has signed up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I would be extremely happy if it was one of the medical students that I trained that gives me the vaccination,” he said.

This is not the first time IU medical students have served during the COVID-19 crisis. Months ago, Governor Eric Holcomb signed an executive order allowing fourth-year medical students to graduate early and join the frontlines. The university said more than one-third of the Class of 2020 did so.

Earlier this week the state reached out to Hoosiers who signed up for Indiana’s Workforce Reserve. The Bowen Center for Health Workforce Research and Policy is helping with the reserve effort.

In their recent message to reservists, they had a specific request for availability to support Indiana’s COVID-19 vaccine deployment.

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