WSU Pharmacy students pitch in with COVID-19 vaccination efforts

SPOKANE, Wash. — When it comes to access to the potentially lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine, it’s more than just mass vaccination sites.

On Monday morning, the Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences helped people get protected. School officials say they expected to administer between 160 and 180 COVID-19 vaccines throughout the day. This was made possible by the students stepping up in a big way to help end this pandemic. It also provides them with an experience they will never forget in their professional careers.

When Crystal Lewis started her journey as a pharmacy student years ago, she imagined there would be a lot more in class learning and hands-on lessons that didn’t involve vaccinating a population against a deadly virus.

“I had no idea that I was going to be able to serve my community this way, and kind of be on the front lines and start vaccinating people in a pandemic like this,” said Lewis.

Lewis is just one of many medical students at WSU helping administer the vaccine in Spokane. Monday, she was at Summit Cancer Centers in Spokane Valley, and many of her classmates will be at various pharmacies and the Spokane Arena this week.

She says so far it has been a rewarding experience.

“They’ve been super great patients, they’ve been super grateful to have finished their two doses or have started,” said Lewis.

Through this past year, the school has seen their students step up to meet the challenges, and they consider this effort to be all hands on deck. Anyone who can give a vaccine should be doing so, to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“50 years from now, what are they going to remember?” said Jennifer Robinson, Associate Dean for Professional Education. “They may remember some of the course work, but really what they’re going to remember is they helped our community find their way out of the pandemic that has been the worst in 100 years.”

For Lewis, she views this experience as a great opportunity as she furthers her education and career in the medical field.

“Being able to have these opportunities to have vaccination events, mass vaccination events has been really beneficial, really for all the students who are qualified to vaccinate,” said Lewis, “we’re all given the opportunity and I think taking advantage of it has been really beneficial for all of us.”

Summit Cancer Centers and WSU expect to be vaccinating around the same number of people each day, and they will be administering vaccines until 8 p.m. to make sure it is as accessible to as many as possible.