Whitireia nursing students undergoing immunisation training to help their communities fight COVID-19

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As a result of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout increasing in New Zealand, Whitireia has embedded immunisation training as a focus in their nursing programmes.

To ensure all communities have access to the vaccine and information surrounding it, cohorts from Bachelor of Nursing Māori and Bachelor of Nursing Pacific have undergone training through the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC).

“Completing immunisation training allows these nursing students to be a part of the workforce that seeks to administer vaccines and provide education to our community. The ākonga are increasing their knowledge of vaccines, such as MMR, Influenza, and COVID-19, as well as learning the clinical skills that sit alongside that”, says Whitireia Māori nursing tutor Verna Whitford.

Furthermore, training these students will positively impact the broader community by allowing Māori and Pacific communities to connect with health professionals and go through the vaccination process in a culturally competent and confident way. “It is important for those who are administering vaccines to represent the people in their community,” explains Verna. 

The Whitireia students have undergone IMAC’s free Provisional Vaccinator Foundation Course (PFVC). Usually, this training is held online; however, these students had the privilege of receiving on-campus support from IMAC staff. Students who complete the training and exhibit their clinical competency through a peer review will then be one step closer to administering vaccines.

Whitireia Bachelor of Nursing Pacific students learn how to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.

Additionally, students require a certificate in Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to vaccinate. Capital and Coast District Health Board has removed the cost barrier to CPR training by offering it free to Māori and Pacific nursing students. In June, the students completed their CPR training with the Ministry of Health’s chief nursing officer, Lorraine Hekarata, in attendance. 

Sala Eastwood, a busy mum in her final year of a Bachelor of Nursing Pacific, was one of the students who did the immunisation training and explains what a great opportunity it was. “I’m very grateful for being able to get this training. In a weird way, COVID-19 has been a blessing in disguise for nursing students as we are now getting these opportunities.” 

Sala has completed the CPR training and the PFVC course and is awaiting a letter of authorisation from IMAC stating she can be a vaccinator. “Five student nurses attended a peer review for PFVC at Maraeroa Marae. It was such a great experience. We vaccinated each other for COVID-19 under the supervision of an authorised vaccinator.”

Sala is excited about going out and empowering her community to get vaccinated. “It is great to be part of the solution. I have already put my name down to help at a Porirua COVID-19 vaccination clinic later this month,” Sala says.

Head of Pacific Nursing at Whitireia, Tania Mullane, believes that completing this training prepares student nurses for better employment opportunities since you do not need to be a fully qualified nurse to be employed as a COVID-19 vaccinator. As a result, we will see these newly trained student nurses out in the community helping in the fight against COVID-19.

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