Pete transformed into vaccination site to administer shots to around 800 health care personnel, students


Rachhana Baliga | Staff Photographer

Pitt held a vaccination clinic with the Allegheny Health Department Thursday to vaccinate around 800 healthcare workers, including Pitt students, in the 1A priority group.

By Martha Layne, Assistant News Editor

The Petersen Events Center, a complex usually associated with Pitt Athletics and working out, can now add vaccine administration to its list of uses.

Around 800 health care personnel, part of vaccination group 1A, will be vaccinated over the course of today and tomorrow at the Pete. The personnel come from Pitt, Chatham University, Community College of Allegheny County, Duquesne University, La Roche University and Pittsburgh Technical College. Students who interact with patients are also included in this group.

The Allegheny County Health Department provided the vaccine and shots will be administered by Pitt faculty as well as students from Pitt’s schools of Pharmacy, Nursing, Medicine, and Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Melissa McGivney, the associate dean for community partnerships at Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, said the clinic “has drawn people together in an incredible way.”

“Pitt has the expertise and capacity that enabled us to plan this two-day clinic in just [two-and-a-half] weeks and serve our community during a critical time in this pandemic,” McGivney said.

Sam Berlin, a sophomore nursing major, received the vaccine and said there wasn’t a real reason not to get it, especially with working in a hospital.

“I mean, there’s not really any reason not to. I’m not an idiot. I trust science. I don’t know how the vaccine works, somebody else does,” Berlin said. “If I’m going to spend eight hours a week in a hospital, it’s safer for me and everyone around me to get it.”

Those being vaccinated first had their temperature checked at the front doors of the Pete’s upper concourse, then went through two stations of paperwork before sitting at one of several stations where a student in a white coat with a face shield would administer the vaccine. After receiving their shot, patients had to wait for 15 minutes in another area of the concourse to see if there were any immediate adverse reactions before receiving a congratulations sticker and receiving instructions regarding when to come back to receive the second dose.

The University’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office sent a survey to the Pitt community Thursday to gauge vaccine needs, and asked that Pitt affiliates complete it within 48 hours. Based on the survey questions and state guidelines, Pitt will prioritize vaccines for patient-facing health care personnel as well as those with high-risk conditions.

Pitt is in the process of becoming an independent vaccine provider, which would allow the University to keep its own vaccine stock and distribute shots. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said Tuesday in an interview with The Pitt News that if Pitt gets certified as an independent vaccine provider, then the University would like to open several vaccination sites for students and employees, but also potentially serve as an open regional vaccination center for the Pittsburgh area.

“From a planning perspective, we’re planning for demand-limited — big … vaccination centers, high throughput, seven days a week, long hours, that kind of stuff,” Gallagher said. “In the short term, we’re trying to take advantage of any vaccine availability, whether it’s from UPMC, this weekend from the county, ultimately our own, to make sure we can identify members of the Pitt community who fall into these prioritization groups and give them every opportunity to get them a shot.”