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Healthcare students volunteer in UTEP’s second rollout of COVID-19 vaccination

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A critical point has been reached in providing COVID-19 vaccines at UTEP, with the university beginning to administer second doses in the past two weeks.   

“To date, UTEP has immunized 3,478 people with either one or two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine,” said Sandy Vasquez, UTEP’s associate vice president of human resources. “UTEP is now administering second doses of the vaccine to those who received their first dose at UTEP.” 

At the biweekly UTEP clinic, a group of volunteer students, composed of medical field majors, have lent their helping hands to distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible faculty, staff and students who meet the criteria for group 1A or 1B.  

Among the volunteers is Celida Sanchez, a clinical laboratory science major, who is receiving volunteer hours required for her degree program. 

We were all very excited to take part in something so historical and to give our program recognition,” Sanchez said. 

As UTEP expands its vaccination program to include eligible individuals among retirees and faculty emeriticolleagues at El Paso Community College and several Region 19 school districts, the workload for students and faculty administering the vaccines has increased.  

Keeping up with the workload since we get so many patients,” is what Sanchez said has been a struggle for her, however, she is not discouraged. 

“That is not really a problem in my eyes. Knowing that we have so many people getting the vaccine is great,” Sanchez said.  

Sanchez has found volunteering is not only relevant to combating COVID-19, but also a fortuitous opportunity as a student in the healthcare field.   

“Being a student in the healthcare field during a pandemic has created many opportunities for us as students, and we get to take a huge part in history,” Sanchez said.  “In many years to come I will feel honored and proud to say that in this moment I was able to not only be a part of history but to be someone making a change.” 

For Christian Monzon, putting his skills to the test as a third year UTEP pharmacy student is what encouraged him to volunteer, despite a lack of monetary compensation. 

“I just wanted to help the community,” Monzon said. “I have these new skills that I have learned from the School of Pharmacy that I felt obligated to exercise.” 

Sharing a similar perspective to the prevalence and impact of the second COVID-19 vaccine rollout is Mar Medina, a pharmacy major working alongside Sanchez and Monzon.   

“These are historic times, and I felt that it was my duty to step up and assist with the vaccination effort as a pharmacy student,” Medina remarked.  “As a student in healthcare, the vaccine clinic is an essential resource that I can support. The City of El Paso and UTEP have been at the forefront of the immunization effort, and I am honored to contribute in any way possible.”   

Aside from dealing with high responsibility, being part of monumental events may come with unforeseen challengesAccording to Vasquez, the Texas snowstorm put a major halt to UTEP’s vaccination program, as shipments of the vaccine became delayed due to limited transportation.  

The biggest obstacles were the bad weather and snowstorms last week, Vasquez said.  Because of the weather conditions, we did not receive our scheduled delivery of second doses on time.”    

Due to this, the clinic was forced to reschedule its second doses to the following weeks.

There are still unforeseen issues which may arise, we just must find a way to work around them,” Monzon said. “I feel as though UTEP has a fair number of vaccines, but the demand is so high that we are barely scratching the surface.” 

According to Monzon, the line to enter the clinic remains busy and long every day it is opened from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  

“But there are still so many people who need vaccinations, it seems like there could never be enough,” Monzon said.  

UTEP community members looking to get vaccinated at the university’s clinic and meet the criteria for group 1A or 1B, must complete all the consent forms requiredQualified individuals will be sent an email to their UTEP account when UTEP has available vaccines, with a link to schedule an appointment. 

“I see person after person and have vaccinated over a hundred patients. We use evidence-based research to support the efficacy of the COVID vaccine. Vaccines are safe and effective ways of preventing disease and, along with social distancing, will help America move away from this challenging time.”   

For these volunteers, long lines are a positive sign.  

“The lines get long which is great,” Sanchez said. “That means a great amount of the community is ready to make a change and willing to help others.”  

For more information regarding UTEP’s vaccination program, visit 

Sven Kline may be reached at [email protected]@SvenKline on Twitter.  

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Healthcare students volunteer in UTEP’s second rollout of COVID-19 vaccination