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AdvocacyMay 21, 2012

Operation Immunization: Pharmacy Students Getting Involved

By, Ame Frease

I am a pharmacy student at Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy (MSOP), in Birmingham, Alabama and was excited to attend the Vaccine Dinner Club at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia in April. At the dinner, my class heard about a new campaign called Shot@Life. Immediately, my classmates and I were eager to help, and decided to support Shot@Life’s work through the immunization initiative at our school.

MSOP is active in the American Pharmacists Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists initiative, Operation Immunization. The goal of Operation Immunization is to increase community awareness of immunizations by providing informational resources, promoting immunization services in pharmacies, and increase awareness of the important role both pharmacists and student pharmacists can play in public health. As the chair of our local Operation Immunization committee, I started looking into what we as pharmacy students could do. After visiting Shot@Life’s website, I quickly understood why our students were so excited. This is our opportunity to support, advocate and educate others on the importance of vaccines, not just here in the United States, but around the world—this fits perfectly with MSOP’s vision of preparing pharmacists to transform lives.

Pharmacists are directly involved in providing patient care globally. In the United States, we are blessed with easy access to immunizations for children. Many childhood diseases are virtually unheard of. However, around the world, millions of children are dying from vaccine-preventable diseases. As a student pharmacist, this is hard for me to understand.

We decided to support the Shot@Life campaign by engaging students in a fundraising campaign at the end of the spring semester. The dean of our school, who practiced most of his career in Asia, saw the benefit that Shot@Life could provide to children worldwide. He offered a FREE LUNCH to the pharmacy class that raised the most money. As you know, food is a great motivator. The goal for the school was set at giving 50 children a lifetime of immunity to protect them from four of the most deadly childhood diseases; and, we were successful in raising over $2,000. That doubled our initial goal, and will provide over 100 children a shot at a healthy life.

We were amazed at what we could do and could not believe that we exceed our original goal. MSOP students are a competitive, philanthropic, and hungry bunch. We were so excited that we surpassed our goal and we are going to make Shot@Life an annual fundraiser.