Student Reflections From the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics

USC School of Pharmacy student pharmacists have been active and eager volunteers at two COVID-19 vaccination sites: the Lincoln Park vaccine point-of-distribution (POD) center and Dodger Stadium, the largest mega-distribution site in the United States. Here, a few students volunteering on the frontlines of the pandemic share reflections on what has been most meaningful about being involved in vaccination efforts.

“It’s gratifying to be able to give these vaccinations and everyone is so grateful. One lady was crying knowing that this marked the beginning of a return to normal. I’ve seen my classmates on Zoom but I’m meeting my classmates in real life at these vaccine clinics. That means a lot to me because the first year of pharmacy school is when you build relationships. This moment feels significant.”

-Joanne Reynoso, PharmD Class of 2024

“In the last week alone, I have witnessed some of the bleakest moments of this pandemic on my acute care rotation. Rounding in the ICU and responding to codes, it is absolutely unfathomable the toll that this virus has taken. The loneliness of patients and the despair of families is something I will never forget. Yet at the same time, we have the opportunity to provide hope and positivity in administering the first wave of vaccines. Patients line up with tears in their eyes, and it is representative of all of this pain and suffering coming to an end. Seeing this full spectrum of hope and despair has been life-changing and has taught me that healthcare goes far beyond clinical knowledge. I am honored to be a part of these important public health initiatives.”

-Megan Matthews, PharmD Class of 2021

“The most meaningful thing about receiving the vaccine is that now I can be an advocate for getting it. I’ve talked to my family and members in the community—some who were on the fence about receiving the vaccine—about my firsthand knowledge and experience of how the vaccine is beneficial. I have not met a single person that COVID-19 hasn’t affected in some way, so it’s also a wonderful feeling to administer the vaccine knowing that I’m potentially helping to save people’s lives and those around them as well. I’m so thankful to be in a position to help.”

-Adil Colabawala, PharmD Class of 2021

“Even though this is my first year in pharmacy school, it has been a great experience being able to play a role in helping to end this pandemic. I’ve enjoyed volunteering alongside other healthcare professionals who are stepping up on the frontlines such as nurses, pharmacists and physicians. Participating in vaccination efforts has only solidified my belief in how important the pharmaceutical industry is and how valuable it was for a vaccine to be produced.”

-Benny Wu, PharmD Class of 2024

“I have enjoyed getting to see all of the faces of our Los Angeles community. By administering this vaccine, I feel like I am contributing to the success of this community. This pandemic has taught me that there is always someone who needs help. Sometimes you have to ask for help and that is perfectly normal. Other times, you have to step up and be the one to help others.”

-Kathryn Perkins, PharmD Class of 2024

“The most memorable part about being on the vaccine clinic team is the excitement all of the patients show when they sit down preparing to get vaccinated. Everyone that comes wants to be there, which is truly special. Seeing how fast Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine received FDA emergency authorization approval was a huge breakthrough for the United States, and it really solidified my decision to pursue a fellowship in medical affairs where I can help make a positive impact on a macroscopic level.”

-Trevor Lee, PharmD Class of 2021

“This is our time to shine and to step up and help our communities. We’re getting recognized and it’s nice to know we’re truly a part of history.”

-Mignon Gau, PharmD Class of 2024

“I received the COVID vaccine for my family and friends, not only to help protect them but also to demonstrate the importance of getting vaccinated. I’ve enjoyed the positive energy and bonding with patients at the vaccine clinics. Everyone who comes to get a vaccine is excited to be receiving their first or second dose and to be part of this monumental movement. We are all in this together.”

-Nadia Masroor, PharmD Class of 2022