Since 2005, the College of Nursing has been working with the Philadelphia Public Health Department (PPHD) in their annual flu immunization campaign. The program is a community- based outreach project that targets varying populations depending on community needs, the direction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the availability of the vaccine. Between the months of October and January, adults aged 19 through 64 years of age who do not have health insurance and have no alternative source for medical care, or are unable to access their usual source of care, are eligible to receive a flu shot.
Every junior nursing student in every clinical group participates in this program. On average, 12 clinical groups consisting of eight students each visit a total of 12 sites each year. This year, the group was able to visit 13 different sites with the assistance of the College’s Nursing Without Borders student social service group. At times, groups had administered as many as 150 flu vaccines at one site. Though certain external restrictions may prevent the students from administering as many vaccines this year, the average number of patients immunized ranges from around 30 to 50 people at each site.
Initially, many schools of nursing participated in this program. This year, Villanova was the only school participating. Assistant Professor Elizabeth Keech, PhD, RN has been involved in this annual campaign and says she, “loves the program for a number of reasons, but primarily because it provides a community experience for our students and it is a demonstration of a public health initiative.”
Villanova’s nursing simulation lab provides a great deal of support for this program. Susan Markert, the Learning Resource Center assistant, organizes the supplies and prepares them for instructors at each site. Some days, there are as many as three clinical groups sent out to varying sites and Susan has been a tremendous asset. She helps identify missing supplies, stocks and takes inventory, and works with the PPHD.
Villanova’s involvement in this immunization campaign has given nursing students real-life experience with public health and continues to show the University’s commitment to community and service.