School of Nursing taught retired medical workers COVID-19 vaccines

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By: Kate Luce

Co-Editor-in-Chief

kmluce@iu.edu

It all started after a retired nurse wanted to do her part with the vaccination clinics occurring locally. The School of Nursing offered a COVID-19 vaccine training course for retired medical workers on Jan. 13. About a dozen retired workers attended, with many more still interested in taking part in the course.

This all comes after the state and local health departments requested volunteers to vaccinate eligible groups. Local health departments were looking for anyone who could vaccinate, including any retired healthcare workers.

“A retired critical care nurse in the area reached out to me because she wanted to help with the vaccine effort. She has been retired for a number of years. She was interested in gathering a group of retired people to review their skills about how to give shots, so she reached out to me. She had a network of about 20-25 people that she was working with locally. She gathered the people, and we brought the service itself,” Barbra White, interim assistant Dean of Nursing

On the day of training, about a dozen medical workers came to the training. Some, while unable to make it, were interested in coming. Groups were split into two for social distancing.

Kristy Ludy, clinical assistant professor of nursing, and Chris Hawkins, assistant clinical professor of nursing, took on the intuitive to train these retired nurses.

Ludy took on the task of showing how to administer the vaccines because she had space and equipment to train the medical workers. While Hawkins was able to teach the medical workers about the vaccine itself because of her background in public health and knowledge of the vaccine.

“It really didn’t take that long at all. This is because the people that came to do the training are already healthcare professionals. There were several retired RNs. There were two MDs, and I think they might still be practicing but they have scaled down the size of their practice. There was a pharmacist that came, also. They all had prior knowledge and some experience. The nurses, specifically, knew how to do injections,” Ludy said.

The medical workers are set to vaccinate the general public through the county health departments. Questions are bound to happen, which is why education on what is in the vaccine, how it works and potential side effects was just as important to teach.

CPR, using the defibrillator, and administering an Epipen was a part of the training process.

“It is very, very, very rare that someone will have a problem with it, but if they do, it is in the first 15 minutes. This is why we hold them for the first 15 minutes and watch them before they leave the site of the vaccine. During that time, if someone has a problem with a big allergic reaction. Emergency measures will have to be taken,” White said.

While many of these retired workers could not help just yet due to the number of vaccines on hand, as more vaccines come into the health department’s hand, there will be a greater need for volunteers.

“These are retired people. They have been in helping professions their entire career. We have a huge need for volunteers, and they keep hearing over and over again about how stressed healthcare professionals are. They have not been able to ‘do their part.’ They feel a little left out,” White said.

White states that if any retired medical worker would be interested in partaking in vaccine training, that they should send her an email at whitebj@iusb.edu. White stated she would be open to having a second training session if there is interest. 

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