UNCP mobile clinic takes vaccines on the road, gives students frontline experience

State - Regional

PEMBROKE, N.C. (WBTW) — A local university has started an initiative that takes COVID vaccines directly to people who need them.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s mobile vaccine clinic made its first stops Thursday, starting with Dial’s Family Care Home just outside Pembroke.

“We’re trying to find folks that might have difficulty getting to a vaccination site,” Dean of UNCP’s College of Health Sciences Dr. Todd Telemeco said. “Most vaccines are delivered at a single site, you come to the site, receive your vaccine. A lot of these folks can’t get there.”

That’s why the university’s new program will focus on bringing the mobile clinics to care facilities, remote areas and later to first responders. UNCP was recently approved to be a vaccine provider, and plans to help distribute around 100 vaccines per week in the coming weeks.

“As educators we can answer some of those questions about fear of the vaccine,” Dr. Telemeco said. “So some people might be hesitant to get the vaccine, we can answer those questions in a simplified way.”

The mobile unit, which the university purchased with CARES funding, is equipped with many gadgets, including refrigeration that keeps the vaccine at the perfect temperature. A second mobile unit is on the way.

Nursing students like Kelsey Locklear brought the vaccines out to patients and administered them with supervision.

“I’m definitely excited,” the UNCP senior said. “Ready to make a difference in the world and start my nursing career.”

Locklear was inspired to become a nurse after seeing the care given to her great grandmother, before she died.

“Because I see that I’m making a difference,” she said. “I get to interact with patients. And that’s what excites me the most is just helping people.”

Locklear and her peers certainly did that Thursday. But they also benefitted from learning on the frontlines.

“The silver lining here is they’re living through a pandemic so they get to work in a pandemic with their faculty,” Dr. Telemeco said. “And really learn how to really address these sort of issues with folks.”

The clinic will return at a later date to administer second doses.

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