From vaccination clinics and clinical trials to a new volunteer recruitment web portal, UMass is targeting its teaching, research and community engagement efforts to accelerate vaccinations statewide
University of Massachusetts campuses are deploying the energy, expertise, and ingenuity of students, faculty and staff in support of the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccination effort.
After 10 months of supporting COVID-19 testing clinics, field hospitals, research related to PPEs and testing, and community outreach efforts, UMass campuses are now staffing and hosting vaccination clinics across the state. Students, faculty and staff are administering vaccines, providing logistical support, and conducting community outreach. Researchers are participating in new vaccine clinical trials and examining why some communities are hesitant to take the vaccine.
And just last week, following a call by UMass President Marty Meehan and UMass Medical School Chancellor Michael Collins for a nationwide volunteer vaccine corps, the Medical School and its affiliate Commonwealth Medicine launched a web portal to recruit volunteers to the effort.
The following is a sample of the vaccination efforts of the UMass Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and Medical School campuses.
- The UMass Amherst vaccination clinic, launched January 11, is run by the university’s Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) and has vaccinated thousands of people.
- The Mount Ida Campus of UMass Amherst has partnered with the Holtzman Medical Group to launch a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at its Newton site. The clinic, which is currently scheduled to be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through at least March 19, will administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to eligible individuals and has vaccinated thousands of people to date.
- 400 UMass Medical nursing, medical and graduate students have volunteered to staff vaccination sites in and around Worcester. Working at the direction of the Worcester Department of Public Health, students are vaccinating first responders, elderly and homeless populations.
- UMass Boston has hosted a vaccine clinic for first responders and is planning additional clinics in collaboration with state and local health officials.
- UMass Dartmouth hosted COVID-19 vaccination clinics sponsored by the Dartmouth Board of Health for first responders, COVID Testing Center staff, COVID vaccinators, clinical nursing students and clinical nursing faculty.
- UMass Dartmouth nursing students and faculty are staffing clinics hosted by Southcoast Health, St. Anne’s Hospital and the Dartmouth Board of Health at various locations.
- UMass Lowell launched a website for volunteers to sign up to staff the Lowell General Hospital mass vaccination site.
- More than 50 UMass Lowell students majoring in public health have volunteered to assist in statewide vaccination efforts.
- Using RNA as the basis for current therapies (including the first two COVID-19 vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna) dates back to 1998 with research by Craig Mello at UMass Medical School and his collaborator, Andrew Fire (then at the Carnegie Institution in Washington and now at Stanford), of “RNA interference” (RNAi). This research resulted in Mello and Fire winning a Nobel Prize.
- UMass Medical School is a clinical trial site for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and endeavored to recruit trial participants from diverse communities.
- A National Science Foundation-funded report by UMass Boston researchers found that one in five Bostonians plan to not get vaccinated, including nearly half of Black Bostonians, more than a quarter of Hispanics say the same and quarter of women.
- UMass Medical School faculty who are expert in community-engaged research are organizing and hosting a dozen virtual community forums to meet with select, multilingual, vulnerable populations in Central Massachusetts and answer any and all questions about the vaccine.
- UMass Dartmouth Biology Professor Erin Bromage has been a frequent contributor to national media, educating the public about how COVID-19 is spread and most recently about the potential impacts of new virus variants and vaccines.