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Holding the Line on the Fight Against COVID-19

See how our faculty, staff, students, and alumni across the country are working to fight COVID-19 and protect the health of the communities they serve.

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Pharmacists on the frontlines of COVID-19 testing

Hear from WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty and students working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic becomes once-in-a-lifetime lesson for pharmacy student

Fourth-year pharmacy student Trevor Schultz teamed up with 2009 grad Tyler Fischback to help vaccinate in rural and medically underserved areas in Central Washington.

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A shot in the arm

People aren’t usually excited to get their shots, often cringing at the sight of the needle or putting off appointments. The COVID-19 pandemic flipped that familiar trope, with many enthusiastically rolling up their sleeves for the vaccination and chance to return to a more normal life.

Pharmacy and nursing students and faculty of Washington State University shared in that enthusiasm, delivering tens of thousands of vaccinations.

Read more from Washington State Magazine

Outreach in Wapato

March 2021, third- and fourth-year Yakima pharmacy students participated in COVID-19 vaccine outreach at Horizon Pharmacy in Wapato, in the lower Yakima Valley. Isabel Cueva (last photo) and Arlene Castro, both class of 2022, told us a little about the project.

Wapato is an agricultural community located on the Yakima Indian Reservation in the lower Yakima Valley with many family-owned farms and orchards growing a variety of fruits and vegetables. Demographically, the population is approximately 80% Hispanic/Latino followed by a Native American population.

Outreach events such as this one allow for increased access to COVID vaccines in medically underserved communities. During the event pharmacy student volunteers helped prepare and administer the vaccinations, as well as counseled the patients afterwards. In total, ~150-200 vaccines were administered per day.

Here’s what some of the students had to say about the experience:
“I feel proud to be amongst the countless health care professionals working towards protecting our community and way of life. As an individual I know my effort and contributions will directly help those around me, and together we will promote better health outcomes for future generations.”
Romeo Do, Yakima class of 2022 (first photo)

“As a student pharmacist, I am grateful for the opportunity to administering COVID vaccines to the Yakima community. Everyone expressed their gratitude toward us for volunteer our time and giving them the vaccine but witnessing those happiness moments from community members who finally completed their COVID vaccine was simply an invaluable experience.”
– Tuyen Van, Yakima class of 2022 (third photo)

“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. I also felt like I was able to help out the pharmacy staff by drawing up vaccines and filing paperwork.”
Kara Partridge, Yakima class of 2021 (second photo)

Kayla Leland, class of 2022

Third-year pharmacy students Kayla Leland (first-photo, right) and Mandy Nguyen (first photo, left) have been administering vaccinations and performing other essential pharmacy work during the pandemic.

Here’s what Kayla had to say about her experience:
“I have thoroughly enjoyed representing WSU and the pharmacy profession through administering COVID-19 vaccinations at various retirement homes and long-term care facilities [where] I have had the opportunity to provide a countless number of vaccines to the most vulnerable populations. The heartfelt joy and sincere gratitude expressed by those receiving the vaccines has made giving the shots a very rewarding task.

As a student pharmacist, I am grateful to be at a point in my educational journey where I can truly make a difference and help protect the members of my community and beyond.”

WSU students volunteer giving COVID-19 vaccines at Spokane clinics

“I really love my patients and it’s great being able to do this and get hands-on experience.”

KREM2 News recently stopped by Summit Cancer Centers where they talked to second-year pharmacy student Rochelle Taicz about her experience vaccinating in the Spokane community.

Read more from KREM2 News

Keelin Hovrud, class of 2022

Third-year pharmacy student Keelin Hovrud recently shared this photo with us of her drawing up Moderna vaccine at a clinic at the Fairwood Retirement Village on Tuesday, February 16 where she personally vaccinated ~30 residents (most getting their second dose).

While there she spent part of her time vaccinating and part of her time drawing up vaccine out of the multi-dose vials.

Here’s what she had to say about the experience:

“I loved working with this group of patients because they were all so fun to chat with and it was great to see how excited everyone was to be fully vaccinated. We had many people express their gratitude to us and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. I was excited to be able to play a small part in such a huge and important effort and I’m grateful for all of the people working hard to put these events together.”

‘It’s an access thing’: Pacific Islanders get COVID-19 shots at community clinic in Spokane

Friday, February 19, pharmacy students volunteered to help eligible Pacific Islanders living in the Spokane community get their COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more from The Spokesman Review

Sabrina Fischer, class of 2022

“I feel extremely thankful to be a part of this moment in history. I am so proud that my profession has been able to be part of the vaccine effort and help our community get through this pandemic!”

– Sabrina Fischer (second photo) on her experience volunteering with vaccine distribution during the pandemic.

Sabrina says she plans to continue to volunteer once a week at the Spokane Arena mass vaccination clinic where she’s been working alongside fellow third-year pharmacy students Jessica Penney, Erica Seu, Jennifer Pelzel, Ezinma Ejimonyeugwo and Crystal Lewis.

Jill Harvey, class of 2004

Jill Harvey, class of 2004, launched Prevention NW in 2014 as a mobile pharmacist service to make vaccines more accessible.

Now they’re administering the COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more from the Daily Evergreen

Rianne Masuda, class of 2024

First-year pharmacy student Rianne Masuda recently spent some time volunteering at the Spokane Arena COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

Here’s what she had to say about the experience:

“I have always been drawn to volunteering as it is my way of giving back to the community. Being a PY1 and having recently moved to the Spokane area, I was determined to find opportunities that would help me pursue my passion for helping others and also build self-confidence in becoming a future pharmacist. Volunteering at the Spokane Arena COVID-19 vaccination clinic opened so many opportunities for me!

It helped me to become a better communicator and have patience. It allowed me to practice what I learned in communications through talking to patients and feeling comfortable. I would consider myself a quieter person but that day, wearing both a mask and a face shield, I had to project out my voice and talk to over 300 people. It was an experience I’ll never forget and such a warm feeling that I was able to take part in helping my community move forward during this pandemic.”

Ryan Nottingham

Ryan Nottingham, class of 2016

Ryan Nottingham, class of 2016, critical care pharmacist at LifeBridge Health in Maryland recently shared her perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic in Maryland with WBAL-TV 11.

“It was really difficult when this first started because I was a pharmacist who had no recommendations to help our patients get better. Now things have shifted, we do now have experimental medications that we can offer to our patients,” Nottingham said.

See the video

First photo r-l: Shannon Patterson, Connor Capdeville
Second photo: Rose Cachero receiving her vaccine
Third photo r-l: Sophie Owens, Juliana Beauchene, Ghazal Meratnia

Shannon Patterson, class of 2022

On Saturday, February 6, Shannon Patterson (PY3) joined fellow pharmacy students Connor Capdeville (PY4) and Rose Cachero (PY3) to administer 115 vaccines at the Summit Cancer Centers.

The following day, she joined Ghazal Meratnia (PY1), Sophie Owens (PY3), and Juliana Beauchene (PY3) to help to vaccinate for over 300 patients at the Spokane Arena. Their duties included answering patient questions and concerns about the immune response and scheduling patients for their next vaccine dose.

Here’s what Shannon had to say about the experience:

What were people’s reactions?
People are generally very happy, excited and feel they are making history. Some tears have been shed and some patients show us pictures of their grandchildren they have never met and are hoping this is one step closer to meeting them. It is beautiful.

How do you feel about being part of this moment in history?
This has been the most rewarding experience of the entirety of my pharmacy education. Being able to feel the sense of community has changed my perspective on health care forever and will lead on utilizing all the knowledge I have gained. I have gained a passion for community.

Pharmacy student administers COVID vaccines

During her first volunteer shift third-year pharmacy student Crystal Lewis helped vaccinate about 200 people at the Summit Cancer Care Center. She is one of many pharmacy students assisting in volunteer vaccination efforts across the state.

Read more from the Daily Evergreen

Patrick Tabon, class of 2012

Excerpted from an alumni update originally published in the February CougaRx newsletter

As taxing and exhausting as it is, I think we are drawn to pharmacy because of how important our roles are in the community. It feels less of a burden knowing that pharmacists and other health care providers are doing their parts to get us back to some sort of normal during this pandemic.

I am primarily at Dodger Stadium here in Los Angeles county. LA has to vaccinate 10 million-plus people (twice!!). Part of my role is to help at some of our LA county sites in drawing up doses and coordinating the students as a preceptor. Pharmacists are playing a key role in operations and making sure we don’t waste any doses, they are drawn up safely, and stored under the proper conditions. My colleagues at USC have been instrumental in collaborating and expanding the COVID vaccine clinics so we can hopefully get up to 12,000 vaccines a day. The site is drive-through vaccinations and runs from 8 am – 8 pm, Monday – Saturday. We are vaccinating 8,000-10,000 people currently on any given day. At any given time the parking lot can have 700 cars waiting in line to be given a vaccine. We are able to collaborate and draw up about 500 – 1,000 every hour and the students help administer them in cycles.

I also work in our underserved communities trying to figure out how to get some of the older adults their vaccines. It has been a challenge but we are still working out some of the logistics.

Jennifer Hernandez, class of 2021

Fourth-year pharmacy student Jennifer Hernandez shares her experience giving and getting the COVID-19 vaccine:

“Proud to have received my second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from my colleague, and fellow Coug, Melonie Lam, PharmD (first photo). While immune responses have been variable across the demographics, I can report that I had a stronger response from my second dose than my first, but was grateful to know the vaccine was effectively teaching my immune system how to respond to the COVID-19 virus. Despite some body aches and fatigue, I went to work at the clinic the next day. My symptoms were self-limiting and resolved after 24-hrs. Reports have shown that serious complications such as anaphylaxis occur in 1 and 100,000 from the Pfizer vaccine, and 2.5 in 1,000,000, in the Moderna vaccine with no deaths reported.

When I think about how I feel about being a part of this vaccine clinic, my first thought is, gratitude. I am grateful for the education I have received because it has allowed me to participate in ending a global pandemic that has now taken over 2 million lives, disrupted global economies, and strained health care systems worldwide. As a fourth-year pharmacy student, I am grateful for the experience I am receiving now, because in just a few months, I will be a graduate, working on the largest mass vaccination effort in our history.

Due to the delicacy of the mRNA vaccines, inversion of the Pfizer vaccine must be done 10 times, before and after reconstitution (third photo).

While on rotation in January 2021, both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were offered to phase 1A demographics (workers in healthcare settings) and all employees of the site. By mid-to-late January invitations were sent to the phase 1B demographics (adults age 70 years and older, and adults age 50 years and older who live in multigenerational homes), with prioritization for those 80 years and older.

While on my institutional rotation, I have been working to build my leadership skills and learning how to manage the COVID-19 vaccination effort. My goal for this rotation is to be able to stand-up a vaccine clinic anywhere, anytime, start to finish; a remarkable skill for a graduate in the midst of this pandemic.”

WSU Pharmacy students pitch in with COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Pharmacy student volunteers recently spent the day at Summit Cancer Center vaccinating eligible health care workers and community members against COVID-19!

Read more from KXLY

Yakima Valley health care students get real life experience with vaccine rollout

Front page news! WSU pharmacy and nursing students pitch in to vaccinate eligible community members across the Yakima Valley.

Read more from the Yakima Herald

‘Rise to the challenge’: WSU nursing, pharmacy students volunteer to administer COVID-19 vaccine

WSU pharmacy and nursing students volunteer at vaccination sites in the Spokane community.

Read more from the Spokesman Review

Photo by WSU Photo Services
WSU pharmacy students in Pullman assisting with arrival testing

WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences students put their training into practice assisting with arrival testing in Pullman ahead of the start of the Spring 2021 semester.

More than a dozen pharmacy students helped Pullman students who live off campus with their COVID-19 nasal swab tests, providing instruction on how to administer the test and ensuring samples are handled and stored properly.

Read more

Kentaro Sato, class of 2022

When third-year pharmacy student Kentaro Sato had his chance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the high-risk category of essential workers he was resolved to do it.

Now he can continue his work as a pharmacy intern compounding remdesivir doses for patients and stocking and delivering medications in the COVID wards with a little more peace of mind.

Ghazal Meratnia, class of 2024

First-year pharmacy student Ghazal Meratnia has been helping with COVID-19 testing at a local pharmacy, including giving patients instructions, administering nasal swabs, and even running the tests through the IDNOW Abbott rapid testing machines (pictured).

Each test takes about 15 minutes and with two machines running simultaneously they were able to run up to 50-65 tests per day when the pharmacy was at its busiest.

Adelina Guzman, class of 2023

Over the winter break, second-year Yakima pharmacy student Adelina Guzman (right) participated in a COVID vaccine clinic at an assisted living facility/rehabilitation center in Richland, Washington.

Here’s what she had to say about the experience:
“Being able to be a part of vaccinating high-risk members of my community solidified to myself that I undoubtedly chose the right career path. I left the clinic feeling very gratified and blessed to say the least. One day I am going to be able to look back on this state of events and remember that I played a vital part during a worldwide pandemic.

I have received many responses from making it known that I have been administering the vaccine and have received the vaccine myself. Some negative, some positive, but mostly concerns and questions. This enabled me to get first-hand experience in how pharmacists play an important role in education and vaccination. As one of the most trusted health care professionals, it was very satisfying to counsel patients and sometimes change their perspective alongside my preceptor. Shedding light on the importance pharmacists can provide in performing health care services outside of their ‘box’ has been the greatest takeaway. I am now even more excited about what the expansion of this career will look like in the future.

Before Pfizer released the first COVID-19 vaccine I felt very hesitant. I shared many of the same opinions that citizens of the community shared. For example, being concerned about the speed of the production process, absence of any long-term data, etc. However, my first job is to be a student. So, I sought out literature and I was then relieved of my anxiety. Physically, it felt like any other vaccination. Yes, the pre-vaccine jitters will be there, but once it is done, you’ll wonder why you were even scared in the first place. I want to be an example for my community and hopefully make them feel at ease knowing that we can share this experience.”

Natasha Olson, class of 2014

“We are very excited to be able to provide this service by administering the COVID vaccine to the community and to be a part of making history.”

Natasha Olson, class of 2014, (pictured holding a box of the Moderna vaccine) has been working hard as a pharmacist at Summit Cancer Centers North to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to Phase 1A individuals in the community.

In total, they are planning on administering 3,000 of the vaccines.

Tyler Fischback, class of 2009, & Trevor Schultz, class of 2022

Tyler Fischback, class of 2009, has mentored Trevor Schultz, class of 2022, over the past three years in the Doctor of Pharmacy program at WSU. In December 2020, they got to make history when they helped vaccinate high-risk health care workers in the community at the COVID-19 vaccine clinic for Confluence Health up in Wenatchee, including the moment when Trevor himself gave Tyler his first COVID-19 vaccination (pictured).

Here’s what Trevor had to say about the experience:
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get involved, learn, and serve as a role model in the community. I am just trying to absorb as much as possible throughout the experience. If I come away with anything, I at least have a new found confidence in my ability to run clinics like these in the future. I hope to be able to share these experiences with other students in the near future.”


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 distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Torrie Jayne Wolery, class of 2017

Torrie Jayne Wolery, class of 2017, has been hard at work administering the COVID-19 vaccine in Alaska!

Here’s what Torrie had to say about the experience:
“When I moved to Alaska 3, almost 4, years ago it was my dream to create an immunization and clinical program at our local independent pharmacy.

I never imagined it would all come together in under two weeks and the first immunization we would give to a patient would be one that had never been administered on our island.

I have been working closely with local and state departments in uncharted waters creating a plan to provide the COVID-19 vaccine(s) to the residents of Ketchikan, Saxman, and Ward Cove.

Alaska received its first shipment early this week. Living in Alaska has proven difficult for logistics of getting this vaccine to communities as it must be kept in ultra-cold storage and once out of that temperature and put into regular refrigeration, must be used within 5 days.

Friday morning I went to the Ketchikan Gateway Airport, accompanied by Kalli Kline Teune, to pick up the first viable shipment of vaccine on our island. The adrenaline rush and pure elation was like nothing I’ve experienced before. I received my first dose of the vaccine and then we spent the rest of the day administering it to staff and residents of assisted living facilities and employees of Guardian Flight, our provider for emergency air medical services.

This entire experience has further solidified my decision to make pharmacy my lifelong career as I continue to learn, experience, teach, and provide medical services and information to the local community.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the years! I couldn’t have done this without my incredible boss and coworkers as well!!”

Students raise funds for virtual care in Yakima nursing homes

Nursing homes have been ground zero for the havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic with nursing home residents making up more than a quarter of all deaths nationwide caused by the virus. Several pharmacy students have decided to take matters into their own hands by providing virtual care to elderly patients in Yakima Valley nursing homes.

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Student pharmacists on COVID-19 testing in Pullman

“As health care providers all we want to do is educate, immunize, and help provide those services.”

When Misty Lefler and Shayne Fontes learned that volunteers were urgently needed for COVID-19 testing at WSU’s Pullman campus, the third-year pharmacy students scrambled to organize their peers over one weekend.

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Pharmacy students prepare to vaccinate

Every fall second-year pharmacy students complete their immunization training certificate.

This year looked a little different. Normally dozens of students would gather in a room to be evaluated on their technique. This year, students were certified in small groups, just in time to administer flu vaccines and the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

Pharmacy researcher’s quest to help homeless during COVID-19

As Spokane shelters have had to put limits on the number of people admitted to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, WSU faculty are seeking out individuals experiencing homelessness in Spokane to offer help and health checks.

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Managing diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic

The deleterious impact that the COVID-19 virus has on people living with diabetes is now well known. When the American Diabetes Association, had to quickly pull together a panel of experts to study the impact the virus has on people living with diabetes, they called on pharmacotherapy professor, Joshua Neumiller.

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Creativity in teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic uproots life for many pharmacy students across the nation, faculty and staff met the challenge head on through technology and innovation.

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Keeping students and faculty connected while socially distanced

As COVID-19 swept through the nation, many institutes of higher education were faced with the prospect of suddenly moving instruction to a virtual setting. The WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) was no exception. With only a few days’ notice, the CPPS IT team had to spring to action to provide the IT infrastructure for nearly 700 students and 160 faculty and staff to work from home as the Washington state governor issued a mandated stay-at-home order in March.

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