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'It’s hope in a bottle:' A&M Central Texas nursing students step up to help with vaccine distribution

Posted at 6:43 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 19:43:26-05

The Bell County Expo Center is one of the largest vaccination sites in our area, so they need all the help they can get.

As the supply of COVID-19 vaccine increases in Central Texas, more help is needed to actually get those shots into the arms of Texans. Without hesitation, students and staff from A&M Central Texas signed up to volunteer.

“What better way than to help out with the pandemic that has taken out a lot of our family and friends," said nursing student Samantha Navarro.

The fight against COVID-19 is something Samantha Navarro and fellow nursing student Angel Garcia take personally, both working as registered nurses throughout the pandemic.

“I felt also really just really eager to fight back against COVID. It’s already made people sacrifice so much, so it just feels good to try and put a stop to it,” said Garcia.

The two took a small break from their RN to BSN studies to help out with vaccine distribution, and even got to see their instructor, Amy Mersiovsky, in person instead of behind a computer screen.

“We’re nurses! Like I always say we want to help people, and we know at this particular vaccine site, we are going to save so many lives,” said Mersiovsky, instructor and Department Chair of the College of Nursing.

The partnership between counties and their local nursing school has been the norm for vaccine distribution since supply has increased. Mersiovsky says it's really a win for everyone.

A&M Central TX students are already planning on when they can come out and volunteer again.

“We’re hoping to be back and help out. All of the nursing schools in the county have been here and assisting. It’s a great learning opportunity for students. It’s also a way to help the county get the number of people vaccinated that need to be vaccinated,” Mersiovsky said.

Navarro, Garcia and Mersiovsky were three of 77 volunteers. It’s help Bell County PIO James Stafford says is need and much appreciated.

“We could not operate without the volunteers we have. For a lot of people, this is their chance to see their grandchildren and have the opportunity to interact with friends and family that they haven’t been able to spend time within the last year. It’s a big deal for people,” he said.

Stafford says it’s all-hands-on-deck moving forward.

“There’s so much gratitude, there’s so much excitement. You know, we talk about these vaccines in terms of doses, but for a lot of people, it’s hope in a bottle. We’re still very much encouraging people, this vaccine is great but it’s not a reason to get lax,” he said.

This particular vaccination site was for folks who were getting their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. County officials say they have not yet received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

So far, over 43,000 vaccines have been distributed in Bell County.