Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy has received a $20,000 grant to mobilize vaccine teams, delivering COVID-19 vaccines to minority populations living in Southern California.
The award was presented during the 26th annual National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation Scholarship Program.
The NACDS Foundation promotes diversity and innovation in pharmacy education in under-represented populations.
This year, the NACDS Foundation received more than 40 scholarship applications from schools and colleges of pharmacy from across the country. LLUSP was one of five awarded with an innovation track scholarship.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shed light on the health inequities and disparities that exist in our country and disproportionately affect some of the most at-risk populations facing health threats and limited access to health and wellness — and these upcoming educational initiatives are helping to serve as solutions to these critical issues,” said NACDS Foundation President Sara Roszak.
Michael Hogue, PharmD, FAPhA, FNAP, dean of LLU School of Pharmacy, has played an integral role in establishing clinics in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and California state guidelines and said the grant funds will be used to organize interprofessional teams of students, staff, and faculty to administer COVID-19 vaccines in vulnerable communities throughout Southern California.
“We anticipate immunizing approximately 100 people per week through these mobile teams; and while this number does not sound significant, it is extremely important given the level of vulnerability the population we are targeting is facing during the pandemic," Hogue said. "These are among the highest risk persons of society who are impacted by social determinants on healthcare.”
Each team will include two students from pharmacy and a medicine or nursing student, along with a preceptor, as well as a Spanish-language translator, who is also a community health worker or “Promotora.” Hogue said all students will be trained in effective techniques for reducing vaccine hesitancy.
Loma Linda University’s Institute for Community Partnerships (ICP), in partnership with El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center and the San Bernardino Department of Public Health, will provide a map of targeted communities, where four to six vaccine teams will be sent out to reach the residences within specified neighborhoods. Teams will also visit homeless encampments and engage with those living on the streets of San Bernardino to optimize vaccination opportunities among the most vulnerable populations.
“LLUSP will send out teams at least once each week for as long as the declared pandemic continues,” Hogue said.
Nearly 80,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered through interprofessional clinics by Loma Linda University students of pharmacy, nursing, respiratory therapy, dentistry, physician assistant studies, and medicine, according to Hogue.