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USM nursing students helping COVID-19 vaccination effort

In a former home store in South Portland — redecorated with socially distant pathways and COVID-19 vaccination stations — University of Southern Maine nursing student Hallie Fuller felt confident and helpful.

She and a growing number of USM nursing students have worked every station at the public vaccination clinic run by Northern Light Health, from the intake post at the door to the outtake waiting area. And they have administered many of the precious shots.

“People are so excited,” Fuller said, smiling behind two masks. “They’re so ready.”

A photo of three USM School of Nursing personnel

USM School of Nursing lecturer and undergraduate nursing faculty coordinator Leslie Larsen (center) and students Hallie Fuller (left) and Caroline Fulcher (right) pause from volunteering at the Northern Light Health vaccination clinic in South Portland on March 23, 2021. Fuller and Fulcher are among more than 135 SoN students volunteering at vaccination clinics in South Portland, Bangor, and Rockland.

In January, University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy announced that more than 250 nursing students from throughout the system will be volunteering to help end the public health crisis this spring by participating in Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination deployment.

About 135 nursing students from USM are among them, said Leslie Larsen, a USM School of Nursing lecturer and the undergraduate nursing faculty coordinator.

Larsen has been rotating students through each role at the vaccination site and will do the same at other sites in Bangor and Rockland.

“We’re really thrilled to represent USM,” she said.

For Fuller, who worked at a flu clinic in the fall, giving vaccination shots wasn’t new. Rather, she felt grateful for the chance to lend a hand at this moment in history.

She has been working alongside nurses and paramedics and marveled at the efficiency of the clinic. People are usually vaccinated within seven minutes of their arrival, she said.

“I just felt so excited to help,” Fuller said.