Lipscomb Health Science students and faculty were moved up in line for the COVID-19 vaccine.

This includes students in nursing, pharmacy and dietetics, according to Katie Watson, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing.

“Several of our faculty and students have already started their vaccine series and a couple have already gotten their second one…we’re so thankful,” said Watson, who has seen the virus’ impact firsthand.

“When we announced that we were seeing COVID patients, it was like the floodgates opened,” said Watson, who works at the Vanderbilt Walgreens clinic. “There was still so much uncertainty. Was it spread airborne? Do we need to wear an N95 mask versus a regular surgical mask? Do we need gown and gloves?”

Watson received her vaccine in December, since she’s a member of the Vanderbilt healthcare community.

“I will just say how I felt was ‘Wow’, I felt so honored and humbled on how privileged I am for the blessing to be able to be vaccinated.”

As vaccines continue to rollout, concerns have popped up over their safety considering the fast turnaround.

“I understand the worry of something new…but the government gave these drug companies unlimited funding in order to get this done and that is why it was able to be done so quickly,” Watson said.

“So, I say, look at the facts. Check the CDC. Talk to your health professional or the Lipscomb Health Clinic, somebody who is knowledgeable in the medical field versus someone who has probably just read something on Google.”

Ashley Newby, a junior nursing student at Lipscomb has also received the COVID vaccine for her work on Vanderbilt’s cardiac floors.

“Working during the pandemic has been pretty stressful,” she said. “Even though my unit is not a COVID unit, there is still a feeling of uneasiness with the possibility of a patient being asymptomatic…I feel so blessed to have received the COVID vaccine and feel a lot more hopeful after receiving it.”

Health Science students like Newby have stepped up to the plate with their work during the pandemic while also adjusting to the learning curve that comes with online schooling. In the fall, students participated in a community healthcare event with Operation Andrew to help raise COVID and health awareness for local under-resourced communities.

“Our nursing students did several things including COVID screenings and vital signs, the physician assistants program was there and gave free flu vaccines, which was amazing. And then the pharmacy students did glucose screens and blood sugar checks,” said Watson.

“Our Community Health class in the fall actually participated in the Tennessee Health Department disaster preparedness training, so they were specifically trained to help with disasters, including pandemics. …Because of the nature and time of the vaccine trials, they were even able to learn some about how our vaccination protocol plan would roll out as far as how Tennessee is going to vaccinate the entire population.”

“When I got my vaccine, I felt this burden lift,” Watson said. “Hope is what I’ve really used to describe my experience, because after getting the first dose, I immediately felt hope that I was doing my part to help with this pandemic. Hope that I could maybe see people’s smiles again someday soon.”

Photos via Ashley Newby and Sarah Feldman

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