Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) at the UI College of Pharmacy once again coordinated an Operation Immunization campaign this fall. This initiative is designed to increase the public’s knowledge about immunizations while increasing the number of adults receiving vaccinations. 

Between Sept. 2 and Nov. 3, 113 UI College of Pharmacy students administered 6,820 flu vaccinations throughout campus and the community via 74 immunization clinics. In total, 5,064 vaccinations were given to UI employees, 560 to area business employees, 550 to UI students from the Colleges of Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Medicine, as well as the Hawkeye Marching Band, and 646 to the general public.

The amount of vaccinations given in this annual campaign has skyrocketed over the past two years, with 3,100 vaccinations given during the 2015-2016 school year and 800 in 2014-2015. The increase in 2016-2017 and the overall success of the program is largely due to the dedication and hard work of its student pharmacist coordinators: Ethan Sabers, P3, coordinator and Jillian Romanco, P2 and Leeta Votsmier, P3, co-coordinators.

Sabers’ responsibilities as coordinator were extensive. He was charged with scheduling all clinics with campus and community partners, such as UI Student Wellness, UIHC and local pharmacies/businesses. He also coordinated student pharmacists to administer the vaccinations, assisted with necessary clinical paperwork, and helped prepare the co-coordinators to take over in the next year. 

Although a big job, it is one he is greatly passionate about. When asked why he wanted to be a part of the Operation Immunization campaign and why it is important, Sabers said, "I have a passion for this particular operation because it is a great opportunity as student pharmacists to advocate for the professional of pharmacy as a whole. As the most accessible health care professional, today’s pharmacist has an extraordinary role in both patient care and in public health. Operation Immunization provides a canvas for our students to get out in the community and fulfill our professional responsibilities by providing education and immunizations to the public."

His dedication and hard work helped him and APhA-ASP's Operation Immunization earn some accolades this past school year. At the APhA-ASP Midyear Regional Meeting in October, he was honored with an APhA-ASP Regional Member Recognition Award for his role with the campaign, which he was nominated for by his peers. Sabers also received the Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award from the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) and accepted the Laura Scott 2016-17 Outstanding Influenza Season Activities Award from the National Adult and Influenza Immunization Summit (NAIIS) on behalf of APhA-ASP.

According to Romanco, who will take over for Sabers next year, “Ethan did a wonderful job in coordinating the many Operation Immunization events this year. He is very driven and motivated to increase the amount of people vaccinated throughout the community as well as to increase opportunities for our fellow student pharmacists to gain essential vaccination practice. I am excited to coordinate events next year and hope to continue in Ethan's path of excellence for Operation Immunization.”

To learn more about the Operation Immunization initiative, please contact Ethan Sabers at