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COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Pharmacy Students Vaccinate UPMC Employees Running Vaccine Clinic

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The UPMC staff running the COVID-19 vaccine clinic for healthcare workers are getting vaccinated themselves.

The Pfizer vaccine has arrived at UPMC and soon the vaccine clinic at UPMC Presbyterian will be up and running for frontline workers.

"When we think about it, the last time we had a pandemic to this scale, vaccines were not a thing and this is the first time that we do have the opportunity to vaccinate people and hopefully prevent more deaths from occurring," said Duquesne Pharmacy student Joshua Doracio.

Doracio is one of the pharmacy students behind the needle at UPMC on Wednesday.

"Until the state signed a waiver allowing students to participate in this, we were really limited to healthcare workers in a time where those resources are strained," said Alfred L'Altrelli, who's the Director of Pharmacy at UPMC Presbyterian.

It's a pivotal teaching moment that in turn expands the number of people able to give the vaccine.

"It was a moment where it showed the true impact that pharmacists can make, as well as future pharmacists can make, because at times, we are hidden heroes as we are doing all this work behind the scenes," L'Altrelli said.

In a dry run of the UPMC Presby vaccine clinic, five pharmacy students administered the Pfizer vaccine to other healthcare workers who will be vaccinating the rest of the hospital.

"I was so preoccupied by our students being able to do it, I don't really think it hit me until the needle went in my arm how historic this moment was, especially being one of the first at UPMC to get it," said Deanne Hall, who received the vaccine on Wednesday.

Frontline workers at the hospital will start making their way through the vaccine clinic on Thursday and Friday. The goal is to have it all up and running as a well-oiled machine by next week.


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