JONESBORO, AR – New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University (NYITCOM at A-State) has fully-vaccinated 2,395 Arkansans through free COVID-19 vaccine clinics the medical school has led, and that number will likely surpass 2,500 following another “second-dose” clinic scheduled for this week.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work our students, faculty, and staff are doing to serve the people of our region and help protect so many people from this awful virus,” said Dr. Shane Speights, dean of NYITCOM at A-State. “As a medical school, we are serious about our role in impacting communities through health care, and there’s no better way to do that right now than by bringing vaccines to people who desperately need them.”
NYITCOM at A-State has been involved in a total of 23 clinics – both first- and second-dose – since early March. The medical school helped lead a clinic in Jonesboro and has taken its Delta Care-A-Van mobile medical unit to nine communities across the region – Batesville, Blytheville, Caraway, Elaine, Marvell, Osceola, Pocahontas, West Memphis, and Wynne – to hold strike clinics.
Vaccines at NYITCOM at A-State clinics are completely free, and the medical school isn’t charging insurance for any inoculations. It is able to do so thanks to a grant from the Arkansas Minority Health Commission.
NYITCOM at A-State, through its Delta Population Health Institute (DPHI), has specifically targeted communities with large minority populations and has been successful in reaching diverse groups. Of the 2,395 individuals who have been fully vaccinated at NYITCOM events, over 600 listed their race as either Black, Latinx, Asian, or Pacific Islander.
“We’re very fortunate to have partners in these communities that have helped us education people on the safety of the vaccine and the opportunity to receive it through our mobile clinics,” said Dr. Brookshield Laurent, NYITCOM at A-State chair of clinical medicine & executive director of the DPHI. “Those partnerships have been vital in our ability to reach a large number African-American, Marshallese and Latinx individuals.”
As NYITCOM has returned to communities to deliver the second dose of the vaccine to individuals who attended their clinics, it has been very successful in doing so. The college has experienced a 90% return rate to its follow-up clinics. That success rate comes thanks to diligent work done by NYITCOM’s call center, which contacts every individual to remind them of their second-dose appointment.
“Those who miss their appointment receive a call the day of the event to encourage them to come,” said Tiffny Calloway, DPHI’s director of operations. “If they don’t attend, we call them after the fact to make them aware of pharmacies or clinics in their area where they can receive their second dose. Communication is a really important factor in making our events successful.”
Medical students are trained to administer intermuscular injections as part of their medical education, and NYITCOM’s students are frequently volunteering at COVID-19 vaccine clinics operated by the medical school as well as its partner hospitals across the state and region.
“While we’d certainly prefer that this experience not be necessary, the pandemic has provided unique and invaluable opportunities for our students to serve and learn,” said Dr. Amanda Deel, NYITCOM at A-State associate dean of academic affairs. “We’re very proud of the way they’ve stepped up.”