In one of the most significant efforts to vaccinate the region's vulnerable residents, Duquesne University medical professionals have vaccinated more than 2,000 people at Allegheny County's COVID-19 vaccine distribution site in the Hill District in just a few weeks.

After a slightly slow start, the clinic is vaccinating nearly 200 people each day from Monday through Saturday.

Faculty and students from Duquesne's schools of pharmacy, nursing and health sciences have been trained in storage, handling and administration of the vaccine. In fact, Duquesne's School of Pharmacy has trained hundreds of pharmacists and students during the past several months to deliver the vaccine.

The Hill District site, located in Central Baptist Church, hopes to vaccinate thousands more from underserved areas during the next several weeks, according to Dr. Jennifer Elliott, director of the university's Center for Integrative Health (CIH).

Black and low-income communities have been hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19 cases and deaths. The Hill District site will address gaps in vaccine distribution, targeting specific communities who have not been reached by traditional means.

"We are working diligently to promote equitable vaccine distribution," Elliott said. "Many of these residents face significant barriers to health care and other needs. We are pleased to partner with the Allegheny County Health Department and Central Baptist Church to provide a vital service at such a critical moment."

Duquesne's expertise in promoting health equity and opportunities in the Pittsburgh region, and its experience in delivering health services to the Hill District, should be reassuring to people who are hesitant about the vaccine, said Rev. Victor Grigsby, Sr., pastor of Central Baptist Church.

"We are excited to work with the county and Duquesne to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to those living in the Hill and other underserved areas," said Grigsby, who received the vaccine at the new center. "The vaccine is safe and effective, and provides important protection from COVID not only for ourselves, but also for our families and friends."

The staffing of the vaccine site is just the latest example of the university's commitment to building healthier communities in underserved areas. Last fall, the university's Center for Integrative Health (CIH) conducted chronic disease health screenings and provided flu immunizations to housing authority residents in the city of Pittsburgh.

More recently, CIH received a $475,000 grant from the Hillman Foundation for the Bridges to Health program, which addresses disparities in COVID-19 and disease outcomes in Hazelwood and Clairton. Previously, Duquesne operated a pharmacy in the Hill District for ten years before selling it to UPMC in 2019, and the university's pharmacy students still work in the space.

Duquesne pharmacy students have already administered more than 3,000 COVID-19 vaccinations in various health care settings, offering them the opportunity to work alongside faculty and in the community as part of preparing them for the range of health environments where they will work.

"It's another great opportunity to partner with the community to live our mission and to prepare our students for their careers; allowing them to interact with patients to provide services, support and education that eventually leads to healthier communities," Elliott said.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,000 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

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May 04, 2021