COVID-19 vaccination clinic officially opens in Merced with help from nursing students

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Volunteers took part in a final briefing before helping hundreds of Merced County residents get the shot that protects them from COVID-19.

Merced College nursing students in their second semester were among those stepping up to serve the community at a time when there's a great need nationally for healthcare workers to administer vaccines.

"It's just a privilege to do that, honestly, because people put their trust in us," says Rachel Cook.

Michaela Hoyt says this opportunity hits home because her identical twin sister became very sick with COVID-19 in her line of work as an essential employee.

"It's so special to me, especially today that we are vaccinating the older population 65+," she said. "It's so important because I believe all of them need to get it because she was at her work, she was in all of her PPE and she still got infected."

Merced College President Chris Vitelli says it's all thanks to the partnerships with health care organizations. The Pfizer shots come from Dignity Health and were allocated for community clinics.

Never in a million years did I think we'd be doing what we're doing right now, but it's the right thing to do," he said. "We have the resources, the students with the skills and we'll keep doing this until the community no longer needs us to do it."

This site is set to provide more than 2,700 doses of the vaccine over the course of five days for people who pre-register, regardless of insurance, ability to pay, or citizenship. Recipients we spoke with say it's a way to stay safe and return to some sense of normalcy.

"First step in taking care of the COVID pandemic, I think it's awesome," says Greg Beck. "I think everyone should do it."

With only 300 vaccinations on this first day, Winton resident Joyce McDaniels said the process was a smooth one.

"I thought it was going to be like an hour, two hours, three hours but it's not," she said. "It's very convenient and it's very good. It's very good they're doing it."
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