Several University of Montana pharmacy doctoral students have helped administer hundreds of COVID-19 shots this month as part of their "Operation: Immunization" project. The students have been scheduled to help with vaccination clinics using the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

The students had already been trained and certified as pharmacy-based immunizers in the initial weeks of their 4-year pharmacy doctoral degree. Marketa Marvanova, Dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy, said in a news release, "We enable our students to have a lot of experience in vaccinations, and that is an attribute that has allowed these wonderfully passionate students to be a critical force in managing COVID-19 locally. Providing immunizations is a way to contribute the knowledge, skills and abilities of our students and the greater profession of pharmacy, to become part of the solution.

Students were asked if they would like to volunteer to help. Those who agreed got their masks on and began administering hundreds of shots. The students worked with Missoula City-County Health Department and the UM Incident Command Team and is supported by the UM chapter of the American Pharmacists Association. Ken Chatriand, manager of UM Pharmacy, coordinates the community pharmacy practice experiences.

Nate Bennett, an Army National Guard veteran, is chairman of Operation:Immunization. He said the students are looking at this experience as a "moment not only to practice and refine our skills, but to truly be of service as pharmacists-in-training. It will be wild looking back on this one day."

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