Vaccine POD a Demonstration of Partnership and Commitment to Experiential Learning

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 23, 2021) – The University at Albany partnered with Russell Sage College to stage a “Point of Dispensing” (POD) vaccine site on campus last week, specifically for eligible employees of the partner institutions.

Stephen Conard, emergency management coordinator in UAlbany’s Office of Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance, explained that when Albany County receives its allocation of vaccines, they make provisions to get them out the door and to eligible recipients as soon as possible. Because UAlbany has both the space and the logistical capacity to stage a POD on its campus – in this case, the Performing Arts Center, it was an ideal opportunity for the county to provide about 500 doses of its allocation.

“UAlbany and Sage both have large populations of Phase 1B-eligible employees," Conard said. "By working with our colleagues and students at Sage, both institutions were able to not only provide vaccines to some of our faculty and staff, but also to provide a valuable experiential learning opportunity to Sage nursing students who are qualified to administer vaccines.”

Glenda Kelman, Sage’s chair of nursing, agreed with Conard’s assessment and noted that Sage seniors Sean Garrison and Stephanie Fodera were able to get practical experience at UAlbany during a time when so many clinical settings are shut down.

“With regular clinical sites being closed to nursing students, nursing at Sage has included the students’ participation in both COVID screening clinics on campus and the vaccination clinics conducted around the Capital District, including Hudson Valley Community College and the University at Albany,” said Kelman. “Through these experiences they have gained confidence and experience in vaccinating and teaching individuals about the importance of hand washing, social distancing, the use of face masks and returning for their second vaccination."

“Again, we’ve been able to partner for the good of the community,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “Both UAlbany and Russell Sage have large populations of eligible employees, including public-facing staff. We are making every effort to help drive up the percentage of Capital Region residents receiving vaccinations to get us to that herd immunity threshold of 70 percent, and by doing this and being able to help qualified Sage nursing students be able to get real-life experience by administering shots, that’s a win-win.”

The first of its type in the county, the POD also served as an important trial run. The logistical undertaking of hosting a vaccine POD is massive, said Peter Evans, associate director of University Events. In addition to typical event logistics, significant safety measures, ranging from managing traffic flow through the building, physical distancing, protocols in the event of an adverse reaction to the vaccine and training volunteers must be taken.

“This was an important trial run of UAlbany’s POD plan in the event the state expands eligibility and supplies become available for us to run a POD for students,” Evans said. “This trial allowed us to test our plan with a limited number of doses and identify any areas that need improvement before scaling up and we know now, thanks to the many hands helping, that we are very prepared to host a POD for students if that becomes an opportunity.”

“Having the opportunity to get the vaccine on campus with my colleagues means a lot to me,” said Lisa Gonzalez associate director of annual giving. "The UAlbany experience was easy, from signing up to receiving the follow-up appointment time. I’m grateful to have been able to get the vaccine through this partnership rather than going through the larger open POD system.”

As a demonstration of the University’s commitment to public engagement, Conard added that the University also is in communication with other local colleges to consider similar PODs in the future if vaccine doses are adequate.

New York State determines eligibility for the vaccine, and the POD on Thursday was restricted only to those employees who are eligible under current state requirements. UAlbany continues to hose state-run vaccination site on campus that is open by appointment to the broader community for those eligible.