Laurel Ridge and Rotz Pharmacy team up to vaccinate nearly 5,000 at the college

210305 Rotz Pharmacy Vaccination Clinic by Sonja Rio - 022

A public health effort by Laurel Ridge and Rotz Pharmacy has resulted in more than 5,000 vaccines against Covid-19 being administered at the college’s Middletown Campus in the past five weeks alone.

Rotz Pharmacy began offering vaccines at its Amherst Street location in mid-January. When he knew he would be getting in a large batch of the Moderna vaccine – more than his independent pharmacy had the capacity to administer – co-owner Jason Rotz reached out to Laurel Ridge.

“Of course we said we would be happy to provide the space and the student nurses and the volunteers to pitch in with this massive public health effort,” said Whitney Miller, who as Laurel Ridge’s director of facility planning and auxiliary services, has been heading up the volunteer effort.

At the first joint clinic on March 5, Laurel Ridge and Rotz got shots into more than 800 arms. There has been a clinic at Laurel Ridge every Friday since then.

As of April 16, Rotz Pharmacy had administered a total of 6,800 vaccines, with nearly 4,700 of those at Laurel Ridge. About 1,450 people have received both their first and second doses of the vaccine at the college.

The vaccinations are being done by Laurel Ridge nursing students, under the supervision of faculty members. Laurel Ridge faculty and staff members, and some members of the public, have been volunteering at the clinics, checking in those getting their shots, shepherding them to the correct stations and ensuring they’ve waited 15 minutes post-vaccination before leaving.

“I’m so proud of the time and energy our faculty and staff – and our wonderful nursing students – have given to this effort to bring the covid pandemic to an end,” said Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser, who will be volunteering at this Friday’s clinic with her teenage son. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the college to contribute to the health and wellbeing of our community. The clinics are also invaluable teaching moments for our nursing students, many of whom have had a hard time getting in their mandatory clinical hours due to the pandemic.

“This week is National Volunteer Week, and I’d like to take this chance to say thank you so much to all of you who have helped at these clinics. You truly are making our community a better and a healthier place.”

Rotz said his pharmacy would continue administering second doses of the vaccine at Laurel Ridge until at least May 12, and would offer more first-dose clinics if the demand is there.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said of the partnership with Laurel Ridge. “We wouldn’t be able to do this without the participation and all the help that the college has contributed.”

It takes about 70 volunteers to put on each clinic, so “it’s a massive undertaking,” Rotz said.

He noted that the commonwealth is now offering covid vaccinations to all those aged 16 and over. The vaccine offered by Rotz, Moderna, is only approved for those 18 and older. Go to Rotz Pharmacy’s Facebook page to get the link to sign up for your vaccine.