Less than a week after Phase 1-B of the state’s vaccination plan began, a large number of UA community members received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Saturday at the first of several planned mass vaccination clinics.
Lauren Underwood, human resource manager at Collier Drug Store, said 600 patients were vaccinated during the event at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
UA nursing students and Collier Drug Store employees worked together to administer the first of two doses to the university’s most at-risk faculty and staff members.
Brian Petty, a program project specialist for University Relations, received his invitation to the clinic on Jan. 20, he said. The 59-year-old said his experience was quick and painless.
“I felt absolutely nothing,” Petty said. “That was the easiest shot I’ve ever had, the most painless shot. I didn’t feel a thing.”
During Phase 1-B, Arkansans 70 or older and employees who work in education are eligible to receive the vaccine. Eligible employees include those working with K-12, childcare and higher education, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
After patients entered Razorback Stadium’s SEC Club Saturday, they handed their consent forms to a Collier Drug Store administrator before UA nursing students administered the vaccine at socially distanced stations.
All of Saturday’s patients will receive their second doses of the vaccine at identical clinics in February, said Remington Smith, a senior nursing major who oversaw administration of the vaccine.
UA health officials initially contacted employees and student workers who were age 65 and older or immunocompromised to schedule vaccination appointments, according to Pat Walker Health Center.
Each attendee quickly received a shot and left. Petty said he spent about 10 minutes waiting to be escorted to a medical station, where he was almost immediately vaccinated. He spent another 15 minutes in a separate seating area where nurses observed his reaction to the injection.
Common side effects of the vaccine include pain and swelling around the injection site, and fever, chills, tiredness and headaches, according to the CDC. Symptoms indicate the body is building immunity, and should go away within several days.
At a smaller clinic at the SEC Club on Jan. 20, more than 200 faculty members and nursing students received their initial dose of the vaccine, said Susan Patton, director of the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing.
Patton said the smaller clinic allowed nurses to practice for larger vaccination events, and created more space for younger employees to attend the clinic on Saturday.
John Thomas, manager of University Communications, said invitations to both clinics were emailed to qualified UA employees by the university’s Emergency Management department. Each faculty member had 24 hours to accept an appointment, with priority given to those over the age of 70.
Smith thinks the vaccine clinic partnership between the nursing program and Collier Drug Stores has been mutually beneficial, she said.
“The Collier people are there to do the paperwork and get the vaccine from the ADH,” Smith said. “But definitely we need them for the clinical experience, and I don’t think they’d be able to do it without us.”
Petty is relieved to be among the first Arkansans to get vaccinated, especially because his job requires him to be physically present on campus, he said.
“I like it greatly because I still have to interact with people on campus,” Petty said. “And it makes me feel like I'm keeping others safe by having the vaccine.”
Further information about the COVID-19 vaccines is available on the CDC website.