Medical Partnership Vaccinates Clarke County Students

The Clarke County High School gym was once again buzzing with COVID-19 vaccine administration on Saturday, April 17 as 48 students, faculty, and staff from the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership Mobile Clinic/Athens Free Clinic turned their vaccine efforts towards students.

Clarke County School District high school students and students at Foothills Charter High School ages 16+ could receive the vaccine. Vaccines were given to students as well as parents and guardians who were interested.

Leah Topper, an M3, gives a vaccine to a Clarke County employee on March 10, 2021.

The road to vaccinating the CCSD students began with a change in curriculum at the Medical Partnership. With vaccine rollout becoming more widespread, Medical Partnership administration shifted the curriculum of the Community and Population Health course to allow first and second year students to become trained to give vaccines.

“Since the Medical Partnership opened its doors in 2010, our mission has been to engage and serve the communities around us,” said Campus Dean Dr. Michelle Nuss. “With the vaccine rollout ramping up statewide, we felt the need to turn our focus where we are needed most. We need all hands on deck to fight this pandemic, and having our students equipped to join in that fight is so rewarding for our medical students.”

Students received vaccine training in the campus’s clinical skills lab before training on-site with community partners at the Department of Public Health.

After training with the nurses and staff at DPH, the students took their skills to the community with the mobile clinic where they administered shots at locations such as Columbia Brookside and Athens Community Council on Aging.

On Wednesday, March 10, Medical Partnership students gave up time during their spring break to participate in the mass vaccine event to administer shots to CCSD employees. Students returned three weeks later to administer the second vaccines. Almost 1,400 employees were fully vaccinated by the time the event was complete.

“For me, part of my goal here has been to leverage university resources towards the community in a teaching effort,” said Dr. Suzanne Lester, associate professor at the Medical Partnership, medical director of the mobile free clinic and a practicing physician at Piedmont Athens Regional. “This is a great way to give back to the school district and therefore benefit the kids in the district and the parents in the district.”

Tristan Lowery, 16, receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Approximately 250 students and guardians were vaccinated Saturday, which brings the mobile clinic’s vaccine total to around 3,900.

CCSD superintendent, Dr. Xernona Thomas, accompanied her daughter, Camille, to get her vaccine. She was excited her daughter was on the road to being vaccinated.

“We are excited for the opportunity for her to be able to get her vaccine so she will be able to have a little more freedom and confidence as we try to return to normalcy,” said Thomas.

With almost 250 more members of the community on their way to become fully vaccinated, this mass vaccine effort made possible by the partnership with CCSD, DPH, and the Medical Partnership students, faculty, and staff has helped us continue to fight COVID-19.

“For our students, this has been such a tremendous experience,” said Nuss. “They feel so grateful to be able to support our local communities and move us one step close to ending the pandemic.”

For more information about attending the Medical College of Georgia at the Medical Partnership campus

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