Pacific University collaborates with Oregon health officials to distribute COVID vaccines to the Forest Grove community

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Note (added Feb. 20 2021): The Pacific Index is not run by Pacific University staff, and Index writers can not add potential vaccine recipients to a waitlist. The Index will provide updates as to when and how vaccines may be available to the greater public at Pacific in the future. We apologize for any inconvenience or misunderstanding this article may have caused.

In a collaboration between Pacific and healthcare providers such as OHSU, Hillsboro Medical Center, Providence Health and Services, and the Washington County Public Health Department, Pacific is acting as a certified pandemic vaccinator, providing vaccination clinics for qualifying members of the community.

The first of these clinics was held last month on the ground floor of the parking facility adjacent to the college of health professions campus in Hillsboro. “We vaccinated 600 people in two days,” says Ann Barr-Gillespie, Vice Provost and Executive Dean for the College of Health Professions at Pacific and co-chair of the Pacific COVID-19 preparedness and planning team. 

The clinics are largely being operated by volunteer efforts. “We had 120 volunteers that included Pacific students, faculty and staff from across the university, in the PA [physician’s assistant] pharmacy programs, and in the facilities staff, the campus public safety staff, HR and conference and event services,” says Barr-Gillespie. “These people are doing really good work to bring vaccines to our community, so we’re really proud of them.”

For Pacific students in pharmacy and PA programs, these clinics also offer valuable field experience that has been hard to come by during the pandemic. The actual vaccine shots are being administered by these students with supervision by licensed faculty.

The clinics so far have been vaccinating individuals in the 1A group, which includes essential healthcare personal and high-risk individuals. With subsequent clinics, the hope is to start including 1B individuals as well—including K-12 educators, a group that several Pacific students, staff, and faculty fall into—once they meet statewide guidelines for distribution. “We’re not able to vaccinate every single student at Pacific yet, because they first have to meet the criteria for the group that the state is specifying,” says Barr-Gillespie.

Students, staff, and faculty that are eligible for the vaccine are being contacted directly about the opportunity via targeted email or text. “It’s kind of on an individualized basis right now,” says Barr-Gillespie. “As we move into a phase… where the eligibility criteria just become more relaxed because more and more people are vaccinated, then we may have to shift our focus.” This may involve opening up vaccinations via appointments through student health or having drop-in clinics but will depend on what the situation looks like over the next several months.

Amy Rasmussen, Business Continuity Emergency Manager for Pacific and co-chair of the Pacific COVID-19 preparedness and planning team, is optimistic about the performance of future clinics. “We proved that we can efficiently, effectively, in a nice coordinated manner get about 600 doses done over the course of a very short period of time, and we’re only gonna improve from there.” The next two clinics are happening back to back this weekend, February 18-21, and there are plans to collaborate with Washington County to run six clinics in eight weeks starting in early March.

Pacific’s response to COVID is ongoing, with the school taking many precautions when it comes to student and faculty safety. Measures such as face masks, social distancing, regular cleaning, and contact tracing in place. ”I think that they’ve been well thought out and careful about it,” said Jenna Castro, a Pacific junior who works in the UC Market. 

The school is measuring the effectiveness of its COVID response by tracking cases among students and faculty weekly. As of February 15th, there have been 109 confirmed cases among students and faculty since March 2020. “Part of what has made that successful is their willingness to protect each other and to be resilient and to make the right choices,” says Rasmussen. — Dawson Oliver

Photo: Pacific’s response to COVID is ongoing, with the school taking many precautions when it comes to student and faculty safety (Dawson Oliver)


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