KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Well before the first COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the Kansas City area, plans were underway at Kansas City University (KCU) to help the workforce distribute them.
"We are a one-of-a-kind class that gets to play such a big role in the pandemic," Neha Singh, a second-year KCU student, said.
Singh spent her first year of medical school learning about the science around pandemics and vaccines.
"And this year, the second we got an opportunity to be on the field help out be a part of the solution," Singh said. "I don't think we hesitated."
So far, 650 KCU students have signed up to volunteer; 400 are fully-trained, certified, vaccinated and currently volunteering.
"To know that we can help people in ways more than just giving a shot, you know, calming them down, reducing their anxiety — and their question — and answering their questions about the vaccines," Singh said. "And the more people we vaccinate, the quicker our slots fill up the next time."
Each week, KCU students and faculty physicians are working in 10 vaccine clinics.
"That's what they came to us for, right?" Edward O’Connor, KCU provost and chief academic officer, said. "They want to be out in the community and they're learning the power of public health. And we are absolutely convinced that this will make each and every one of them a better future physician."
In addition to serving the Kansas City area, the university also is helping with clinics in Joplin. Those are usually organized by the local public health department and the National Guard.
"I feel like moving forward in my career this will be something that I look back on," Samuel Williams, another second-year KCU student, said, "and I'm really excited about that I was able to participate in curbing this pandemic and moving forward into the future."
Their contributions will have an even greater effect as more people are eligible to get inoculated, and vaccine supplies increase.
"The idea is to protect our community," O'Connor said, "and we're going to do our part, as long as we need to do."