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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Nonprofit Training Up Its Volunteers To Vaccinate In Long-Term Care Facilities

Registered nurse Celene Salazar, left, closes her eyes as she receives a COVI...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Registered nurse Celene Salazar, left, closes her eyes as she receives a COVID-19 vaccine following her training at a San Diego County public health center, Jan. 14, 2021.

Registered nurses like Celene Salazar know how to give a shot.

The nonprofit where Salazar is a program manager, Champions for Health, offers free annual flu vaccines in low-income neighborhoods. But there are unique steps to administer the emergency approved COVID-19 vaccines.

Listen to this story by Tarryn Mento.

“I thought they were very similar,” Salazar said. “You just puncture it and bring it out and it would be ready.”

But she learned during a recent training session at a county public health center that’s not the case: Pfizer has to be mixed with saline and Moderna needs to rest 15 minutes at room temperature before it can be used.

Educating vaccinators on the particulars of handling the current emergency approved products is one key step to expanding rollout, especially to vulnerable San Diegans. Champions for Health will work with the county to vaccinate senior and long term care facilities not covered by pharmacies.

Champions for Health Executive Director Adama Dyoniziak said three of its nurses receiving training will then instruct the rest of the nonprofit’s medical volunteers.

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“Whether they're nurses or physicians, nursing students, pharmacy students, medical students, whoever it might be, pharmacists, everyone who's ever worked with us in the past, they need to go through a training,” Dyoniziak said.

She said the county will direct them to locations that need vaccinations and the nonprofit will work with the facilities to line up enough people so no dose goes to waste.

“Each vial has 10 doses, so you need to have 10 people scheduled and ready to go at appropriate intervals in order to make sure that every single dose of that vial is used,” Dyoniziak said.

Salazar said she’s looking forward to supporting the effort by Champions for Health, which she’ll remember for the rest of her life.

“One day as I get older and I’m a grandma, not working I can tell people like when COVID happened I got to be a part of it. I got to not only sit down and look at it in the news but be out there and be active and make a difference,” she said.

The nonprofit is scheduling vaccinations at long term and senior care facilities this week.

Reported by Tarryn Mento

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