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Campus & Community - Health

Drexel Vaccine Clinics Offer Dragons A Shot of Post-Pandemic Hope

April 26, 2021

Kymberlee Montgomery, DNP, a clinical professor of nursing and senior associate dean of nursing and student affairs, administers Pfizer vaccines at an April 19 vaccination clinic at Drexel University.

Kymberlee Montgomery, DNP, a clinical professor of nursing and senior associate dean of nursing and student affairs, administers Pfizer vaccines at an April 19 vaccination clinic at Drexel University. Photos by Jeff Fusco.

Please visit the ‘Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus’ website for the latest public health advisories.

 

In most years, Behrakis Grand Hall on Drexel University’s University City Campus hosts events such as lectures, award dinners, entrepreneurial competitions and research conferences on any given day of the week.

 

But in 2021, the large meeting room became home for a different kind of gathering. It’s the site of the University’s sponsored COVID-19 vaccination clinics, which since an announcement on April 6 have been operating on behalf of eligible Drexel employees and students.

 

On April 19, more than 1,000 Dragons convened from all corners of the University to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, administered by both Drexel medical and nursing personnel as well as staff from Sunray Pharmacy, which operated the clinic. It was one of the first clinics on campus where students were able to be vaccinated after the City of Philadelphia announced on April 16 it would move into Phase 2 of its distribution plan, in which all adults over the age 16 became eligible to be vaccinated.

 

“It is probably one of the greatest moments since we began down this path over a year ago,” said Marla Gold, MD, director of Drexel’s Return Oversight Committee, as she stopped by the clinic on April 19. “The University had to shut down, just as the city and the nation began to shut down. The students particularly have sacrificed and have been put through so much this past year. … Vaccination and the move toward greater immunity mark the big changepoint both in the individual lives of our students, and collectively together, in our ability to socialize and get back to the classroom. And that’s what we want to do.”

 

Here are more snapshots of the feeling and the sentiment among Dragons on April 19 as they helped run the clinic or received their first shot of hope:

 

Stephen Gambescia, PhD, clinical professor and director of the Doctor of Health Sciences program, Health Administration Department in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, helped run the April 19 vaccination clinic at Drexel University.Stephen Gambescia, PhD

Clinical Professor and Director of the Doctor of Health Sciences program, Health Administration Department

College of Nursing and Health Professions

 

How does it feel to be helping Dragons access the vaccine?

 

What I think is most exciting is to watch people stand up and cheer after they get their vaccination. We’ve had people who have clapped. We can’t see them smile because they have their mask on, but they’re very excited, kind of doing a virtual high-five to people. Everybody volunteering from students to staff and faculty who are vaccinated have been very excited about being part of an unprecedented public health event. … Really, it goes back to we’re putting our education to work. This is what we’ve been trained to do, especially with the faculty. Although we’re teaching in classroom, we still explain to students that Drexel is about applied education. So, the business we’re in, is improving the human condition. That’s what public health and health care is all about.

 

Helen Bowman, executive vice president, treasurer and chief operating officer, received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 19 at Drexel University.Helen Bowman

Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer

 

How does it feel to be on your way to being vaccinated, and in part due to the University’s efforts?

 

I couldn’t be prouder of our University and its conviction to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff.  From the very beginning, the University has been feverishly working to prepare the campus for a safe return, including hosting the vaccine clinics.  Personally, I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to get the vaccine from Drexel.  The clinic is so professionally done, and it was a wonderful experience to see colleagues and students come together for this very important cause.

 

Do you have anything you’d want to say in this moment to your fellow Dragons?

 

I want to thank our Drexel community for its resiliency, particularly the many valued employees that worked so hard to make our campus safe. I look forward to seeing you all soon.

 

Vibhas Madan, PhD, dean of the LeBow College of Business, received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 19 at Drexel University.Vibhas Madan, PhD

Dean of the LeBow College of Business

 

How does it feel to be on your way to being vaccinated, and in part due to the University’s efforts?

 

I was waiting for this. It’s a great thing from my perspective, and for the community. [The process was] absolutely smooth, perfect, very well set up. A lot of good help along the way. Easy to make appointments, and easy for a follow-up appointment which is already set up. Everybody was really helpful and courteous.

 

Do you have anything you’d want to say in this moment to your fellow Dragons?

 

We have to stay together, stick it out. I always say Dragons are strong and Dragon fire is stronger than anything else. So we have to keep the fire burning.

 

Daniella Ibiam, interdisciplinary health sciences master’s student, received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 19 at Drexel University.Daniella Ibiam

Interdisciplinary health sciences master’s student

 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to “normal”?

 

Honestly, it was hard for me to find this building, and I was kind of ashamed of that because I’m a Drexel student. Because of COVID, I started last year so I don’t really know where anything is. I have one more year as a graduate student, so I can’t wait to actually meet my classmates before we graduate, and get to know where things actually are.

 

Do you have anything you’d want to say in this moment to your fellow Dragons?

 

Hang in there. We’re almost done with this work-from-home, school-from-home thing. I’m pretty excited to be completely vaccinated so I can go back to living a semblance of a normal life again.

 

Matt Foster, second-year student in the Kline School of Law, received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 19 at Drexel University.Matt Foster

Second-year student in the Kline School of Law

 

How was your experience being vaccinated through the University-run clinic?

 

It was good. After the Johnson & Johnson [vaccine] was paused, I was glad that Drexel opened up later that same day pretty much.

 

I liked the privacy booths. I’m terrified of needles, and this was even a very low-key experience for someone who really, really hates needles.

 

Get your shot, please. … If I can do it, anyone can do it.

 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to “normal”?

 

I’m such a nerd. I’m just ready to be back in the classroom. I don’t love remote learning. I like some parts of it, but I’m ready to see my classmates again, to keep talking over ideas, things like that.

 

Lamont Wilson, senior director, degree completion programs, Goodwin College of Professional Studies, received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 19 at Drexel University.Lamont Wilson

Senior Director, Degree Completion Programs

Goodwin College of Professional Studies

 

How does it feel to be on your way to being vaccinated, and in part due to the University’s efforts?

 

There’s a degree of relief in having access, more so now that I’ve had no adverse reaction. There’s hope that this is in fact a solution, a way back to community presence, but still a degree of concern of what is still unknown.

 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to “normal”?

 

I feel like the terms “return to” and “normal” are incompatible. I’m looking forward to what comes next, what we make of the lessons this pandemic has taught us and where that takes us in the future. I am fortunate to work with great colleagues at Drexel and particularly in Goodwin College so, seeing them again, in-person, is something I am looking forward to doing.

 

Jackson Wright, a fifth-year sports management student, received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 19 at Drexel University.Jackson Wright

Fifth-year sport management major

 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to “normal”?

 

I'm graduating, so having a job in person will be nice. Just that normalcy for the small things, and being able to go and just get food with family and whatnot.

 

Brandy Hoffman, academic advisor for the College of Computing & Informatics, received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 19 at Drexel University.Brandy Hoffman

Academic advisor for the College of Computing & Informatics

 

How does it feel to be on your way to being vaccinated, and in part due to the University’s efforts?

 

I think it's great. The experience was pretty quick and easy, and I'm glad that they offered it because I don't think I would have found it elsewhere. Since I'm a new resident to Pennsylvania, this was kind of the best way for me to get the vaccine, as a staff member here. … This was perfect.

 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to “normal”?

 

I'm actually excited about going back into work in the office, since I've never actually worked in the office yet. Since I've started here, I've been remote. So, I'm actually looking forward to that. And also, just a sense of security, just knowing that I have a vaccine.

 

John Van Sickle, a fifth-year finance major, received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 19 at Drexel University.John Van Sickle

Fifth-year finance major

 

How does it feel to be on your way to being vaccinated, and in part due to the University’s efforts?

 

It’s great that they’re doing this for everyone. It’s been a long time coming. It’s been over a year now, so it’s good — a little normalcy.

 

I’m on the Drexel Men’s Lacrosse team. We’re in the middle of the season right now, so a bunch of guys on the team are getting vaccinated today. We’re all really excited. It’s been difficult to test every week and all that. It’s just a lot of extra things that we have to do [as a team in order to compete].

 

Daniel Yun, a third-year computer science student, received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 19 at Drexel University.Daniel Yun

Third-year computer science student

 

How does it feel to be on your way to being vaccinated, and in part due to the University’s efforts?

 

I’m glad that Drexel decided to host [the clinic]. It makes it a lot easier for a lot of nursing students and a lot of other students and faculty here. I have a lot of friends who are nursing students.

 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to “normal”?

 

My cousin recently had a baby and I haven’t been able to see him. I’m looking forward to meeting him for the first time.

 

Nia McCune, a second-year entertainment arts management student, receiving the Pfizer vaccine on April 19 at Drexel University.Nia McCune

Second-year entertainment arts management student

 

How was your experience being vaccinated through the University-run clinic?

 

I was very wary of it at first, but a lot of my family got it, so I felt more OK about it. Definitely doing it at Drexel made me feel safer because I also registered to do it at the Convention Center but I felt like it was more dangerous that way, just the amount of people there. Because this is more controlled, it felt safer and made me feel more comfortable about getting it. The fact that this is specifically for Drexel just made me feel overall better.

 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to “normal”?

 

Really being able to do things this summer with my friends. I felt like I lost so much time last year and so I really want to just be outside this year and see my grandparents, who just also got recently vaccinated.

 

Marla Gold, MD, director of Drexel’s Return Oversight Committee, as she stopped by the vaccination clinic on April 19 at Drexel University.Marla Gold, MD

Director of the Return Oversight Committee

 

What are you most looking forward to when things return to “normal”?

 

The health and safety of the campus and everyone on it. Students, employees, faculty, staff — that’s paramount. I always look forward to having a healthy environment in which we can all achieve our best. That’s public health at its finest. So, I would say the health and wellness of our community remains my No. 1 focus, and that will continue to be no matter what shape we take moving forward.

 

I, as someone who is coming in to work, am looking forward to a vibrant campus with everybody back. I can’t wait for everyone to be here with me. I’m really looking forward to that day.

 

To read more about the COVID-19 vaccine, how Dragons can get their vaccine at Drexel, as well as review frequently asked questions, please visit the “Response to Coronavirus” website.

 

Thomas Knoetgen, editorial associate of publications within the Office of University Communications, contributed to this story.