St. John’s University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Office of Academic Service-Learning recently cosponsored the 2014 Immunization Community Outreach Initiative run by SJU’s Urban Pharmaceutical Care, Research, and Education Institute. The new program provided free flu vaccines to poor and underserved New Yorkers throughout the months of December and January at various locations across the city.
“I’m so proud of my College and the University for supporting this initiative, and I’m grateful to our faculty and students for volunteering their time and professional expertise to make it a success,” said John Conry, Pharm.D., assistant dean and clinical professor of clinical health professions and director of the Institute.
“We are living the Vincentian mission while demonstrating the important public health role of pharmacists,” Conry added. The cosponsoring Office of Academic Service-Learning is part of the University’s Vincentian Institute for Social Action (VISA), which was created to more thoroughly embed St. John’s mission into academic life.
Sixteen SJU pharmacy faculty members, who are immunization certified and appropriately credentialed, received approval from the New York State Department of Health to administer flu shots. This made the University’s pharmacy school the first in the state to obtain a “nonpatient specific standing order” for flu vaccines. To date, nearly 100 people ages 18 or older were vaccinated at nine flu clinics. Conry stressed that the flu has led to significant morbidity and mortality this year, and cases are expected to increase. “Because so many are at risk,” he said, “we hope to continue the program through February and March.”
The St. John’s team began by visiting the New Life Community Development Corporation in Elmhurst, NY, where local residents received their flu vaccines. New Life serves the low-income population in central Queens through community-building efforts aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty.
Homes for the Homeless–Saratoga Family Inn in Jamaica, NY, also hosted the program. In addition to shelter, the organization provides classrooms, libraries, computer labs, health clinics, playgrounds, and counseling centers for homeless families as they work to regain independence.
Several clients of Immigrant Advancement Matters (IAM) visited the D’Angelo Center on the Queens campus for immunizations on December 7, while others were vaccinated at St. Michael’s School in Flushing. Local immigrants receive support through IAM’s educational, legal, and personal advancement programs. SJU volunteers also administered vaccines at the Brooklyn-based Bedford-Stuyvesant Campaign Against Hunger, which combats hunger and health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
The initiative is dedicated to the memory of the late Pamela Shea-Byrnes, D.Min. ’86SVC, ’90G, who was vice president for campus ministry and University events. “Pam was a beloved member of the St. John’s family,” Conry noted. “She lived its Vincentian mission and worked to instill the spirit of service, compassion, and caring to all the lives she touched. Helping the underserved in her name is a fitting tribute to her life and legacy.”
Visa Graduation and Awards Ceremony
The Vincentian Institute for Social Action holds an annual graduation and awards ceremony recognizing the work of student, faculty, and community partners for the academic year.