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SIU dental hygiene students assist mass vaccination clinic

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CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- As mass vaccination clinics take place across our region, the Jackson County Health Department is providing vaccines at SIU.

And now one group of students is helping out with that vaccine distribution.

Thirty students from SIU's dental hygiene program are helping the Jackson County Health Department while they administer vaccines.

Duties include greeting, helping with forms, monitoring those who received their vaccine and escorting. Senior Rebecca Ortiz says it was important to help those that have helped her.

"We are used to seeing, especially the community help us out with our--seeing patients, and everything I felt like it was my duty to be a part of something," she said.

The students that are volunteering are also receiving training to be certified as Community Dental Health Coordinators. Associate Professor Jennifer Sherry says this is great hands on experience about running a program.

"We hope that the Community Dental Health Coordinator will help them see how important public health is. We have to be able to reach people and be able to provide services that normally maybe people can't get," she said.

Senior Miranda Saltseaver says there's been plenty of positive feedback.

"Just a lot of really nice people out here and they're really grateful for everything we're doing," she said.

The goal is to make sure all 30 students participate so they can get all the experience they need before graduation.

The Illinois Dental Hygiene Association has reached out to Governor JB Pritzker in the hopes of approving dental hygienists to administer the vaccine.

Dr. Amy Wyatt, clinical assistant professor with the program says if approved, seniors who graduate and become licensed in May will be allowed to administer the vaccine.

Maya Skinner

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