MISSOULA ꟷ For the approximately 10,000 students and about 3,000 employees at the University of Montana, a COVID-19 vaccine could not come soon enough.
On Sunday, the University opened up the first of three clinics to vaccinate students, employees, families of employees and retirees with the Pfizer vaccine.
Two more clinics will be held on Monday, March 29, and Friday, April 2, marking nearly 10,000 vaccinations administered to community members by UM pharmacy students.
UM’s campus vaccination planning team organized the clinics after the Missoula City-County Health Department opened vaccine availability to all residents age 16 and older on Sunday.
Paula Short, UM associate vice president for campus preparedness, said the UM community has been eager to receive the vaccine.
“We refer to our campus community as the UM Family for good reason,” Short said. “Seeing the familiar faces of our students, employees and retirees who are both working the clinics and coming to receive a vaccine really drives home the significance of this moment after a year of uncertainty during this global pandemic. It’s a feeling of hope.”
For the better part of the year, UM pharmacy students led the organization of local community vaccination clinics, while UM students and employees waited until they met vaccine phase criteria.
“It’s been a challenge to navigate the distribution phases and guidance for vaccines administration as quickly as possible,” Short said. “Now the time is here and we’re seeing very robust participation in our campus clinics. It feels great to be able to vaccinate those who work for the University, in addition to members of the greater Missoula community.”
Lacey Zinke, UM director of Fraternity and Sorority Involvement, volunteered for the Sunday clinic with more than 10 students from UM sororities and fraternities.
“This moment has been a long time coming and I’m thrilled to be able to finally get the vaccine,” Zinke said. “We’ve been diligent all year in terms of safety and protocol, and it feels great to think about returning to normal in the near-future. It’s also pretty special to be receiving the vaccine from one of our own Griz pharmacy students.”
Hannah Kosbab, a senior from Honeyville, Utah and member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, volunteered at the clinic.
“I am so grateful that we are able to get vaccinated, not only for ourselves, but for our entire community,” Kosbab said. “It’s wonderful to see so many people show up to offer their time and expertise to help us begin to get back to normal.”
At noon Tuesday, March 30, the campus community and members of the public are invited to join a conversation about vaccine development and safety led by Dr. Jeff Adams, medical director of Curry Health Center, Jay Evans, UM research professor and director of UM’s Center for Translational Medicine and Sophia Newcomer, UM assistant professor of epidemiology. The webinar will be held on Zoom, accessible by visiting the link http://bit.ly/vaccineschat.
The University encourages the community to still practice mitigations, including mask-wearing, physical distancing and washing hands, that are proven to reduce COVID-19 transmission.
Contact: Dave Kuntz, UM director of strategic communications, 406-243-5659, firstname.lastname@example.org.