Pop-up COVID-19 Vaccine Site Inoculates Employees

March 29, 2021

To help combat the further spread of COVID-19, St. John’s University—in partnership with Walgreens of Whitestone—recently established a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic on the Queens, NY, campus that saw 450 employees fully vaccinated with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Many current faculty and students served as immunizers under the guidance of Emily M. Ambizas, Pharm.D., Associate Clinical Professor, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

“On short notice and through collaborative efforts, we were thrilled to serve our community by hosting this vaccine initiative,” stated Kathryn T. Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President for the Division of Student Affairs. “It was truly wonderful to assist so many members of our community who had been trying to find an appointment for several weeks; gratitude and relief expressed by employees were a consistent theme throughout the day.”

Everyone who registered by the deadline was able to receive the vaccine. Medical experts encourage members of the public who are eligible to be vaccinated as quickly as possible; the best vaccine is the one that you can access immediately. Vaccination sites around the state are using whichever brand of vaccine is provided for distribution. With a few more vaccines scheduled to be approved soon, there is hope vaccination efforts across New York will accelerate.

Stanley R. Jurgielewicz, Data Center Manager, Office of Information Technology, shared in the enthusiasm that was tangible in the busy Marillac Terrace.

“I feel very fortunate that I have this opportunity to get vaccinated. I thought I was going to have to wait for a long time to get an appointment, but St. John’s is taking care of me, and I appreciate that.”

Although the vaccination clinic was located on the Queens campus, eligible employees from the Staten Island and Manhattan, NY, campuses were invited to join the effort. The event came together shortly after New York State updated the vaccination policies to include “In-Person College Faculty and Essential In-Person Staff.” This change made faculty, administrators, and staff who work in-person immediately eligible for vaccination.

David L. Bell, Ed.D., Dean of The School of Education, was a willing participant, and described the vaccination event through a lens of history. “I think it is not only important for me as Dean to set an example, but also as an African American. I am mindful of some of the historic and ongoing health-care disparities that exist for marginalized communities in our society, and I want to demonstrate that it is important for everyone to get vaccinated if we are to beat this pandemic.”

“This is a great experience for me as a student to be involved in something so meaningful and helpful to the St. John’s community,” said Roza Giannakopulos, a sixth-year Pharmacy student who assisted by drawing doses of the vaccine out of cold storage. “One of my clinical rotations is at Walgreens of Whitestone, so this is a perfect fit.”