Background: For the second year, New Mexico organized a School Influenza Immunization Project (SIIP) to provide vaccines to children in schools. This year, 145 schools participated across the state, representing approximately 20% of the schools in NM. The SIIP team trained University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNM-HSC) students about influenza, disaster response, and immunization techniques to prepare them to be volunteers. The project provided real world experience that prepared students to serve as part of the public health workforce, and to assist with pandemic response, if needed.
Setting: The UNM-HSC is centrally located in Albuquerque. It houses the only medical and pharmacy schools in the state and has a large nursing program. There is also a physician assistant program and a new combined BA/MD program. In total, there are approximately 900 health sciences students currently enrolled.
Population: The SIIP project reached 50 schools in the Albuquerque metropolitan area, serving approximately 33,000 students —14,000 of whom received influenza vaccine.
Project Description: Three live interdisciplinary trainings for UNM-HSC students occurred in September and October. The 90-minute lecture was recorded and made available on the New Mexico Immunization Coalition’s website, allowing students to complete the training outside of the times offered. Students completed pre- and post-tests to gauge increase in knowledge following the training.
Results/Lessons Learned: Over 250 health sciences students completed the SIIP training. Of those trained, approximately 91 registered to volunteer at school clinics. The response from school nurses and HSC students was very positive. It was an enriching experience for the students and school nurses. The HSC students were able to provide service, enhance their training, become role models for younger students, and become a part of pipeline development for the health professions.