HealthChats: vaccines, flu season and COVID-19


The WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences held an illuminating discussion on commonly asked questions about vaccines, this year’s flu season, and what that could mean for the eventual distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Kim McKeirnan and Nicole Rodin, who both teach in the Department of Pharmacotherapy at the college, shared their expertise on how vaccines get produced, and the push to get students certified so that they are ready to vaccinate for what is expected to be a busy flu shot season.

Pharmacy students have also been eager to get certified in time to be able to take part in COVID-19 vaccinations when one comes to market.

“I got some very excited emails [from students] after they were certified, saying ‘Dr. Rodin! We are actually doing so many flu shots at my pharmacy this month!’ which was very encouraging to hear,” said Rodin during the panel discussion.

CPPS Vice Dean of External Relations Linda Garrelts MacLean was also on the panel to discuss the impact that a COVID-19 vaccine might have on the role of pharmacies, which are embedded in communities, and often the first line of contact for minor ailments and conditions, such as strep throat or the flu.

“We have a real opportunity with this crisis, and that is that our student pharmacists, our pharmacist colleagues and technicians, are actually going to be offering and administering the COVID-19 vaccine and that’s going to elevate the visibility of the important role that the pharmacists plays on the health care team,” said Garrelts MacLean.

In what is top of mind for many Americans today, one viewer asked whether a COVID-19 vaccine will be safe to take.

“Normal vaccine development on average takes about 10 years—so this is very fast. But I think something to keep in mind is that the vaccines are still having to go through the same phase trials that they normally would,” said McKeirnan. “I think we have to trust to some extent the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), that when these things are being approved it’s because there’s really good science behind this and how it’s done and if there’s a major concern to the public then that’s being addressed.”

The monthly HealthChats seminar is part of a new initiative to share all the news and most current topics happening in pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences and health care in general. The college will host the next HealthChat on Wednesday, December 2, with Dr. Darrell Jackson who does research for both the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. Dr. Jackson will discuss his journey from wondering into the neurosurgery department in a middle school field trip to becoming a neuroscientist and the desire to be a model for future African American scientists and researchers.

Dr. Megan Undeberg will give a HealthChat seminar on Friday, December 11, entitled Pharmacy Goes to War, a deep dive into pharmacy’s dark past in World War II. Her seminar will discuss the pharmacists in the Resistance in Europe, one pharmacist whose pharmacy was in the Krakow Ghetto, another who was in the Nazi SS and assisted Dr. Mengele (The Angel of Death) at Auschwitz administering Zyklon B into the gas chambers, and our own history of concentration camps in the U.S. in World War II when the country used Executive Order 9066 to remove Japanese Americans living on the West Coast into desolate camps in the interior of the nation.