A man and a woman wear masks and a shield whilefilling needles with the vaccine.
Category: University News

Title: Answering the Call: Georgetown Coordinates COVID-19 High-Capacity Vaccination Site

A Volunteer Effort

Already this year, more than 150 trained clinical learners have stepped up to help the university’s clinical partner, MedStar Health, with its vaccination rollout.

“It takes a lot of teamwork to pull off a clinic like this, and we could not have done it without the student volunteers – they were the key ingredient in our success,” says Nellie Darling (NHS’11, M’21), an international health alumna and fourth-year medical student at Georgetown.

Darling, who served as the medical school student organizer for the mass vaccination site, says she was glad to have an impact on the community.

“Our success is not just defined by how many doses we administered, but by how well we served our community. I lost track of how many patients asked me, ‘When is the next one? I want to bring my grandmother/father/mother/etc. to get their shot at the next clinic,’ ” Darling adds. “Considering our clinic site was located in Ward 8 in Southeast DC – one of the communities hardest-hit by COVID-19 in the District, statements like that speak volumes. These vaccines not only help us reach herd immunity, but they give our community hope. This is how we turn the tide of this pandemic – one shot at a time.”

“Our success is not just defined by how many doses we administered, but by how well we served our community.”

Nellie Darling (NHS’11, M’21), medical student organizer for the high-capacity vaccination site

Elizabeth Douglass (G’21) also was among the Georgetown students who volunteered during the first weekend vaccination clinic.

“The clinic was a huge success and getting to be with clients as they got their vaccines was humbling, there were many tears shed out of relief and excitement,” says Douglass, a student pursuing her master of science in the Clinical Nurse Leader Program. “For most of them, all in priority vulnerable groups, it was exactly a year to the day when they began lockdown. So this was a huge day.”

Clinical students were joined in the university-led operation by staff, faculty and undergraduate volunteers, as well as MedStar Health clinicians.

Putting Plans in Action

Dr. Ranit Mishori, interim chief public health officer and Marc Barbiere, director of emergency management at Georgetown, worked together on planning for both clinics at the high-capacity vaccination site.

“I think it is important to highlight the role university staff played in this effort,” Mishori says. “While the student vaccinators gave of their time and skills, without the logistics and planning work by the emergency management staff at Georgetown, nothing would have been possible.”

Barbiere says the logistics behind large, very efficient clinics is paramount in staving off public health threats.

“The opportunity to put the plan and the preparation into practice in the real world is rewarding as a team,” he says. “It also was very exciting to see how many nonclinical undergraduates volunteered over the weekend. They were so passionate about being there to be a part of the solution for lowering the spread of COVID-19.”

Coming Together

“This is a moment that requires all of us to come together to advance the health of our communities, and I wish to thank all of our volunteers, our students, our faculty, staff and our partners at MedStar Health for their commitment to public health,” says DeGioia.

DeGioia discussed the safety and benefits of the authorized vaccines in an edition of “Georgetown This Week” with Dr. Jesse Goodman, director of the university’s Center on Medical Product Access, Safety and Stewardship (COMPASS). Goodman previously served as chief scientist for the FDA.