Spring 2021

Getting shots into arms

Courtesy of Erin Salo

Erin Salo is no stranger to giving shots. As a third-year student at the U of M College of Pharmacy, Duluth, she administered flu vaccines as an intern at Walgreens. She also worked a couple of flu vaccine clinics for University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) students and staff last fall.

But when the COVID-19 vaccines started becoming available, she wanted to do more. When the Minnesota Pharmacy Student Alliance reached out to the Duluth chapter asking for student volunteers to help pharmacies in need, she jumped at the chance.

After going through online training from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about how to store, handle, and administer the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Salo has been traveling to GuidePoint Pharmacy in Brainerd every couple of weeks since February to give the shots. She also has been doing a quality improvement project at the pharmacy.

In addition to prepping and drawing vaccine, educating patients, and administering shots, she’s been able to give the pharmacy staff a much-needed break. “It makes me feel proud that I have the education I do and that I’m able to do this for this community,” she says.

Salo, who earned a B.S. in biochemistry and a B.A. in chemistry from UMD in 2018, credits donors’ giving with helping her study pharmacy and assist with COVID vaccination efforts. The Swenson Academic Scholarship and the FinnFest USA '92 Scholarship “allowed me to get where I’m at right now,” she says.

She says giving COVID vaccines has been a highlight of her year. “When patients come in, they’re so excited to get their vaccine,” she says. “Some will profusely thank me for being there. That warms my heart.”