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WSU students volunteer giving COVID-19 vaccines at Spokane clinics

With increased demand for vaccine appointments, the need for vaccinators is also rising. WSU health sciences students are stepping up to help administer vaccines.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Since the mass vaccination clinic opened up at the Spokane Arena, appointments continue to fill up almost instantly. Thousands of people already received their COVID-19 vaccine at the Spokane clinic alone, with many more waiting for their turn to receive the vaccine. 

The high demand means it requires all hands-on deck to give out the shots. Some of those vaccinators are actually Washington State University Health Science students from Spokane.

While some college students learn from textbooks, others require hands on experience. Students in the health science field are used to getting real-world experience as they prepare to enter their field, so volunteering to administer the COVID-19 vaccine is an opportunity they are eager to do.

"Today was a free day for me, I don't have work or class, so I decided to come out and help," said Rochelle Taicz.

Taicz is a second-year pharmacy student at Washington State University, while she hasn't even reached graduation yet and she's already making a difference.

"It's crazy to think that each shot that I do is one out of like thousands," Taicz said.

RELATED: WSU COVID-19 Innovation Challenge to grant $25,000 reward

She is administering "shots of hope" at Summit Cancer Centers.

"During the work day a lot of people who are immunization trained already have jobs they have to go to, so it's really special WSU students get to have this time," Taicz said.

Summit Cancer Centers' President, Dr. Arvind Chaudhry said WSU students didn't hesitate to answer the call.

"We all need to roll up our sleeves, not only to just get the shot but also to help get other people the shots," Dr. Chaudhry said.

"I am very proud of the more than 100 nursing and pharmacy students who have stepped up thus far to help vaccination sites administer coronavirus vaccines throughout the region," said Daryll DeWald, WSU Health Sciences Vice President and WSU Health Sciences Spokane Chancellor. "When you consider the community-based nature of many of our programs and our land-grant tradition of service to society, we are right where we need to be," DeWald added.

As long as vaccinators have their credentials to administer the vaccine, they are needed at sites throughout the state. It's an opportunity to give back and be part of history.

"I think this is a once in a generation event and we are all tired of COVID, the only way we can get out of this pandemic is to vaccinate a lot of people very quickly," Dr. Chaudhry said.

WSU Health Sciences is not a provider of the vaccine, although many students and faculty are able to administer the vaccine through their community health coursework or as volunteers. WSU Health Sciences' colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences are administering vaccines at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, which Governor Jay Inslee designated as a mass vaccination site. Ten students are set to volunteer their time daily at the site 7 days a week.

RELATED: Vaccine appointments in Spokane: When you could get one and how to sign up

"I definitely hope with all of the students that are able to give vaccines, we can start rolling out more and get the general public vaccinated very soon," Taicz said.

There's been nothing normal about Taicz's second year of pharmacy school, but there's one thing all of this has confirmed for her.

"I really love my patients and it's great being able to do this and get hands on experience," Taicz said.

When asked how she will remember this opportunity, she said it's given her a renewed belief that she can make a difference.

"For me personally, it's a huge boost in confidence to reassure my patients that I know what I'm doing, that I am there to help them, that I am a trusted health care provider," Taicz said.