PBSC and nursing students aid in COVID-19 vaccine distribution
Editor’s note 2/15/2021: An earlier version of this story indicated that PBSC’s Palm Beach Gardens campus would serve as a county vaccine distribution site. That plan has changed.
Palm Beach State College and its nursing students are stepping up to help area residents who are on a waiting list for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Belle Glade campus served as a distribution site on Feb. 5 and may be used in the future for those needing their second dose. That initiative was coordinated by the Florida Department of Emergency Management to help boost access to vaccines for residents in the western communities.
The use of the campus as a vaccination distribution site follows efforts that have been underway since mid-January by PBSC’s fourth-semester nursing students, who helped administer the vaccines at JFK Medical Center. Earlier this month, nursing students also began helping administer the vaccine at the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County Belle Glade location and at the Mid-County Senior Center in Lake Worth, which also is a temporary point of distribution.
Dr. Deborah Copeland, PBSC’s nursing director, said it is a “win-win” for all involved. The College has nursing programs at its Lake Worth and Belle Glade campuses with students at varying stages of their studies enrolled. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only fourth-semester nursing students have been able to get into five area hospitals to do their normal clinical rotations. Some hospital chains are not allowing clinicals for students at any level. Those students have instead been getting their training solely through various on-campus and simulation activities. By working with the Health Department on its vaccine distribution initiatives, more nursing students can receive clinical training with actual patients.
“Every opportunity our students are given to apply their skills and communicate with people in the community is essential because hospitals have limitations for providing clinical rotations right now,” Copeland said. “This experience has many benefits for all involved, but particularly for the nursing students who can see firsthand the importance of community partnership and public health initiatives. A more direct benefit for students is the ability to work as part of the team to meet the goal of vaccinating our community members.”