High school students among people who received COVID-19 vaccines at Berston Field House this week

FLINT, Michigan -- Returning to a sense of “normal life” was a big motivating factor for young people who received the COVID-19 vaccine at Berston Field House on June 15.

Alana Thomas, 16, came to a vaccine clinic at Berston with her cousins, Kiana Tyler and Troy Huddleston. All three were receiving their second dose of the vaccine.

All three said that they weren’t hesitant to receive the vaccine, and that seeing people in their families and close to them get it helped them have confidence in it.

“I really wasn’t afraid to get the vaccine,” Thomas said. “It’s not that bad and it eliminates the risk of catching COVID-19, so it’s better to just get it.” 

The clinic was a partnership between Berston Field House, the Genesee County Health Department, and University of Michigan-Flint nursing students.

“I was extremely pleased to be able to partner with the health department to be able to bring this pop-up vaccine clinic here at Berston,” said Bryant Nolden, executive director of the Friends of Berston Field House. “By being in north Flint, you know we have an area where a lot of people have vaccine hesitancy, and we thought that having a clinic at Berston, a staple in the community, people know this is a safe place. We thought that it would be ideal to be able to have it here. I'm very pleased that the health department decided to move it here. And I'm very happy to see the staff from the University of Michigan and also the health department here putting this on. I'm really excited about it.” 

Nolden was able to receive his vaccine in early February. 

“Even when I did my vaccine, I actually put it on Facebook Live and also had Channel 5 come out because I'm also a Genesee County Commissioner,” he  said. “So by me being a commissioner and especially during that time so many people had apprehension about getting the vaccine, I wanted to put that to rest. So, myself and also commissioner Charles Winfrey, who also represents a large portion of the city of Flint, we both went and had ours done and it worked out really well. I didn't have any side effects or anything with it.”

To help with logistics and increase vaccine availability, the UM-Flint School of Nursing has organized their Community Nursing course to provide clinical hours for students to participate in administering the COVID-19 vaccine. Every Tuesday, nursing students are sent an email on which clinic they are assigned and able to administer vaccines  at. The nursing students were trained onsite with the GCHD nursing staff on how to properly administer the temperature-sensitive vaccines. 

“Our first clinic we did was actually a drive-through clinic at Northwestern High School,” said Erika Karber, a UM-Flint accelerated second-degree nursing student. “We rotated stations, so everybody got good experience at a different area. And depending on what station you were, some stations were busier than others depending on if you were drawing up the vaccines, checking people into MICR, or administering the vaccine.”

The nursing students have been able to gain experience in the community, but beyond that, be a part of a historic, worldwide vaccine rollout while assisting Flint residents. 

Information about vaccine clinics is available on the Genesee County Health Department’s website.

Read more articles by Jenifer Veloso.