Nursing students at vaccine clinic

Wellness Center COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Opens

February 19, 2021
By: Guest Contributor

Despite a weather-related delayed start, the Worcester State large-scale vaccination clinic opened successfully on Tuesday, Feb. 16, with a steady stream of eligible people arriving to get one of two shots needed for protection against COVID-19.

Those with appointments made through the state system parked in the North Parking Lot and waited for their designated time to flash up on the Coughlin Field scoreboard before entering the Wellness Center. An army of purple-shirted volunteers guided each patient through the tightly planned operation in the Competition Gym, where 15 stations were manned by volunteer medical personnel from Commonwealth Medicine’s Vaccine Corp, including two stations with Worcester State nursing students. After receiving their shots, patients were required to wait for 15 minutes as they were monitored for a rare allergic reaction.

About 500 people were vaccinated without incident on the first day, and 500 more each day this week. Given adequate vaccine supply, the clinic has the capacity to give up 2,000 vaccinations per day when in full operation.

Nursing major Rachel Casey ’21 was one of five Worcester State nursing students—three seniors and two in the Master of Science in Nursing/Community and Public Health program—giving vaccines on opening day, under the guidance of instructor Gina Fleury ’98, M.S. ’12, R.N., clinical resources coordinator.

“People were appreciative and very happy to see us,” said Casey. “They all thanked us over and over for what we’re doing, and that really touched my heart. I told them, it’s really our honor to be doing this.”

The site was created from scratch in under three weeks, a team effort that included leadership from Conference and Event Services (CESO) Director Michael McKenna. He met daily with representatives from Saint Vincent Hospital, which is providing clinical and operational leadership at the site, and Commonwealth Medicine, the health care consulting and operations division of UMass Medical School, which is providing logistical support, project management, and volunteer staffing support.

If enough vaccines are available, the clinic is scheduled to run Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., although vaccine shortages have forced shortened hours this week. Every Saturday evening CESO staff will completely disassemble the clinic, removing the protective flooring to let the gym’s hard-wood surface below breathe and prevent damage. Every Monday evening, CESO staff will set it up again to prepare for the week ahead.

Casey and Fleury agree the clinic was well organized and they felt supported throughout their day of volunteering.

“This is my first experience with a large-scale distribution site, and I was surprised how seamless the process was, and how efficiently our clients flowed through. The clients were also impressed, and they commented on how easy and well organized it was,” said Fleury. In addition to supervising students once a week, she plans to volunteer for other roles at the clinic, even on Saturdays, because she understands the urgency.

“Vaccinations are such a huge component of public health. The more people we can get vaccinated the better,” she said.

“I know this is something a lot of students want to experience. It’s nice to be a small part of the solution,” said Casey. She added cautionary advice heard from other medical experts: “The vaccines have given people a sigh of relief and hope for the future, but everyone still needs to be socially distant and wear masks for now.”

Read about how the local media covered the opening here:


In the photo above, from left: Rachel Casey ’21; Natalie Ross ’21; President Barry Maloney, Ashley Meschke, R.N., student in the M.S. in Nursing, Community Public Health track; Gina-Marie Fleury, M.S., R.N., staff associate, clinical resources coordinator; and Anita Swift ’21.

32 Responses

  1. Ashlee says:

    I am trying to help my aunt. She got her first dose and was scheduled for her second. She didn’t get a confirmation e-mail. She isn’t good with e-mail. I am trying to find a contact to help her figure out when her second dose is? Is there anyone to contact?

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      Unfortunately, we can’t help with questions on vaccine appointments, as those are handled by the state system. You may want to call 2-1-1 to see if they can help.

  2. Joseph Reardon says:

    I receive my first vaccine at Worcester state but unsure how to make my second appointment and have not received any emails.

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      The process is that you make your second appointment while you are waiting 15 minutes after you receive your first shot. Volunteers are on hand to help you, or you can use your phone to make the appointment yourself. However, the clinic has given out J&J vaccines occasionally, which only requires one shot. You should call 2-1-1 for more information.

  3. Pam B says:

    Is there another vaccine site at 525 Chandler Street?

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      That address appears to be Chandler Magnet School, which is on the opposite side of the street, near the entrance to our North Parking Lot, which is where you would park for the vaccine clinic. We know of no other clinic at Chandler Magnet.

  4. Pam B says:

    I scheduled an appointment at 4 PM today through MA Covid 19 email. I did not receive any confirmation and don’t know how to confirm that I actually have an appointment.

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      Unfortunately, we are only the host site and can’t answer question on appointments. Call 2-1-1 and they might be able to help.

  5. Molly says:

    I have a vaccine appointment this Saturday at WSU. Is it okay if my child is with me?

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      Yes, children are allowed to accompany you as long as they also follow the same health protocols.

  6. Giulia Oliva says:

    Hi there,
    I have being able to schedule a vaccine appointment for Friday April 2 in the early afternoon however in one of your page it says that April 2 the site will be open until noon. Can you please confirm that (tomorrow) the site will operate in the afternoon?
    Thank you!

  7. Mike says:

    Hi I have an appointment for my dad April3 and he cannot make it, I have tried to re-schedule for a later date but the web site wont let me do it. It was only let me pick out a different time on the April 3. How can I change the vaccination date for my dad. He is 78 yrs. old and took me forever trying to get this appointment. Everything was full and could not log on.

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      We can’t help with scheduling appointments, but we’re being told if you call 211, they can help you.

  8. Janice says:

    I volunteered and was given first shot March 10. I have my paperwork confirming first dose but lost the card. My second dose is March 31 at 3:20. Will it be a problem if I don’t have the card. I will bring paperwork of proof of first dose.
    Thank You

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      No this is not a problem, since your first dose will be in your records. You will be given a second card, but it will only have a sticker that says you received the second dose.

  9. Fran G. says:

    Where are the wheelchairs located for those who need them to enter the Wellness Center to receive a Covid-19 vaccine? I am taking my father for his appointment and wonder what is the most time efficient way to transport him?

  10. Lance says:

    I received the first shot on 2/20/21 and signed up for the second shot on 3/13/21. I got a confirmation email a few days after the first shot. Will I get a reminder? Or, is the confirmation email all I need to be sure I’ll get the second shot on 3/13? Thanks!

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      Unfortunately, we are only the host site, and can’t answer questions related to the process. St. Vincent Hospital is our clinical partner.

  11. M Kate says:

    Can you confirm that the clinic is still open Friday 3/12 despite the labor dispute at St Vincent’s? my father has an appointment for his second dose tomorrow.

  12. Diane says:

    Can we choose the type of vaccine ?
    We are wanting Johnson and Johnson one dose only.

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      We’ve been told that only the Pfizer vaccine is available at our clinic at the moment, but that the J&J one may be coming soon.

  13. Donna says:

    To whom it may concern, I’ve been trying desperately to get appt for a vaccine for my daughter in law. She lives in Worcester (01602); and is a long time school teacher / principal . She her husband and two adult daughters have all had covid ; and lost a grandmother to the virus !
    The govt site says there is an available spot on Mar 9 th but won’t us book 😏 Any help you can give us would be greatly appreciated !
    Sincerely Donna

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      Unfortunately, we are only the host site and can’t help with making appointments, which is done through the state system.

  14. Diane says:

    Can we choose the type of vaccine ?
    We are only interested in Johnson and Johnson

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      The clinic is still giving mostly Pfizer vaccines. If more J&J shots are made available, that may change.

  15. Charlene gaca says:

    How can I volunteer for the covid vaccine clinics?

  16. Frances Hruska says:

    Is there any way to sign up for unused doses at the end of the day to prevent them being wasted from no shows?

    • Kristen O'Reilly says:

      As far as we know, there is no system for signing up. Please do not come at the end of the day and wait outside without an appointment.

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