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UB, D'Youville pharmacy students to help CVS administer COVID-19 vaccine

The FDA has not approved a COVID-19 vaccine yet, but CVS is looking to hire thousands of people who will administer vaccinations.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — In October, the Trump administration announced the country will rely heavily on CVS and Walgreens to administer the coronavirus vaccine once the FDA approves one. 

Now, CVS is getting ready for when that day finally arrives by trying to hire thousands of qualified pharmacists, nurses and pharmacy technicians. 

CVS plans to send teams to nursing homes and long-term care facilities to distribute the coronavirus vaccine first. Sophomores, juniors and seniors at both UB and D'Youville will be among those helping to deliver that vaccine if they get hired. 

Even those who don't get hired to administer vaccinations will still be involved by helping to screen everyone.

"We have to actually ask patients a lot of questions and make sure we check off boxes before we provide any vaccine to make sure that they're not ill that day, that they feel ok, that they're best to actually gain the immune response. That's where those students are going to be utilized," said Karen Mlodozeniec, with the D'Youville School of Pharmacy.

She says students will also help to make sure everyone is alright after they get their vaccination because more side effects show in the first 10 to 15 minutes.

In New York State, pharmacy technicians cannot provide immunizations. They can help with the logistics though. 

According to the CDC, five kinds of vaccines are in the works. They're all in phase three of their clinical trials, including Pfizer and Moderna.

Although none have been approved yet by the FDA, some say it's important places like CVS get staffed ahead of time. 

"Any type of emergency situation, you always have to prepare, you always have to practice what you need to do, you gotta run drills, that type of thing," said Karl Fiebelkorn, senior associate dean at UB's pharmacy school. "This is the same type of thing. You don't want the vaccine to be approved and then distribution two to three weeks later."

He says when a vaccine is finally approved though, there's a couple myths that need to be debunked.

"There's a lot of different myths out there that you can get the virus from the vaccine. You cannot. You'll get sicker? You will not. The whole idea of this is to improve this," Fiebelkorn said.