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UMass Medical School students among volunteers at opening of Worcester’s first large-scale vaccine site

Volunteers from the UMass Medical School Vaccine Corps were among the health care providers administering shots to eligible patients at the public opening of Worcester’s first large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site at Worcester State University on Tuesday, Feb. 16. A Worcester partnership, the site is supported by UMass Medical School; Commonwealth Medicine, the health care consulting and operations division of the Medical School; clinical partner Saint Vincent Hospital; Worcester State University; and the City of Worcester.

“Today is an important day for Worcester, its residents and all the people who have worked so hard to make this happen,” said UMass Medical School Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “We’ve had many conversations about how the Medical School can play a part in this next phase of the pandemic as we try to get vaccine into as many arms as possible. We’ve come together with Saint Vincent Hospital to offer this site at Worcester State University where people in the local area can come and get the COVID-19 vaccine so we can begin to put this pandemic behind us.”

Megan Read, of Charlton, visited the site to get her first vaccine shot after missing a previous appointment because of last week’s snowstorm. A home care physical therapist, Read’s first appointment was through her employer but she was unable to reschedule it.

“This is a lot more convenient than having to drive all the way to Gillette Stadium,” said Read.

Among the 15 vaccination stations operating at the opening, four were staffed by UMMS students Kaan Apaydin, SOM ’24; Kara Kennedy, SOM ’21; Alex Richard, SOM ’24; and Erica Christenson, SOM ’21.

Christenson, a fourth-year medical student who is taking an extra year to complete the Medical School dual MD/MBA program, said she’s missed interacting with patients as more of her course work has moved online.

“I really enjoy the patient counseling part,” she said. “I like being able to provide them with information that makes them feel better, especially when I have a patient who is maybe hesitant about getting the vaccine and has questions. It is good to be in a position where I can help to reassure them and give them some answers.” She plans to apply to emergency medicine for her residency next year.

Paydin, a first-year student who is part of the Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health program and hopes to go into primary care, said he wanted to do what he could to help out during this historic time.  

The site will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., officials said. It will begin by administering about 500 vaccines a day before increasing to as many as 1,000 a day by next week and is projected to administer 2,000 vaccinations a day by mid-March. Appointments will be available through the Massachusetts website.

People interested in volunteering through the Vaccine Corps can register through Commonwealth Medicine’s website.

Related media coverage:
Telegram & GazetteVaccination supersite at Worcester State University open 
WCVB-TV: COVID-19 vaccination site to open Tuesday at Worcester State University  
MassLive: ‘A light at the end of the tunnel’: Large-scale vaccination site opens in Worcester with 500 doses administered in day 1 

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