Elmhurst University nursing students to help vaccinate people in DuPage County

Nurse administering coronavirus vaccine

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Nursing students at Elmhurst University are joining the effort to get people vaccinated against COVID-19 in DuPage County.

"It’s the perfect way to enter the field of nursing," said Laura Minarich, faculty member in the university's Department of Nursing.

Thirty of Minarich's 60 students will start vaccinating people Wednesday in DuPage County at the Fairgrounds in Wheaton. They’ll do that for eight weeks and switch with the other 30 students.

"There’s a lot of opportunity for them to do the clinical skills and to kind of see what’s going on in this nationwide, as well as global, effort as we combat COVID-19," Minarich said.

Nursing student Andrew Hawkins was a medic in the U.S. Army and will be among those giving vaccinations. He appears to have a leg up on most of his classmates. As an Army medic, he said he's given thousands of flu vaccines to troops in Hawaii.

"I joined the nursing field to be on the front lines, kind of like when I was in the military on the health care and stuff, so this is a great opportunity to be a nurse," he said.

"It's truly amazing to be apart of this monumental thing in history, since this pandemic has affected so many people and is just giving everyone hope."

Minarich said the experience will be valuable for her students.

"The other thing the students have an opportunity to do is to really educate their peers, to educate others in the community about the importance of getting the vaccine and how it’s working and how streamlined the process is," she said.

Minarich said students were negatively impacted at the beginning of the pandemic, as their clinical hands-on classes were curtailed and students had to learn remotely. Now they have a chance to be part of ending the pandemic.

The students were trained Monday in giving immunizations by the DuPage Health Department.