Romeo Do, class of 2022

Nestled in the lower Yakima Valley, located on the Yakima Indian Reservation just a twenty-minute drive south of Yakima, Washington lies the town of Wapato with a population of just over 5,000. Originally a railway station, Wapato has grown into an agricultural community with most residents of the predominantly Hispanic/Latino town working on family-owned farms and orchards.

This March, a group of third-and fourth-year Yakima pharmacy students visited this small town to lend their hands and expertise to the COVID-19 vaccination outreach effort.

“I feel proud to be amongst the countless health care professionals working towards protecting our community and way of life,” said class of 2022 Yakima pharmacy student Romeo Do.

He and fellow pharmacy students volunteered their time at Horizon Pharmacy in Wapato after the local pharmacy reached out to the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Yakima extension to help vaccinate the community in an effort overseen by Dr. Deepka Dhruva, PharmD.

Such outreach events allow for increased access to COVID vaccines in medically underserved communities which have a shortage of primary health care services. Student pharmacist volunteers helped to prepare and administer the vaccinations, and counselled the patients following their vaccine.

“I was only able to give one vaccination, but even in that moment, I felt like I was a part of something much larger. I felt like I was potentially saving that person’s life,” said Kara Partridge, class of 2021. “I also felt like I was able to help out the pharmacy staff by drawing up vaccines and filing paperwork.”

In total, approximately 150-200 Pfizer vaccines were administered per day to the Wapato community—many of whom received their second dose of the vaccine.

“Witnessing those happy moments from community members who finally completed their COVID vaccine was simply an invaluable experience,” said Tuyen Van, class of 2022.