The inoculation clinic was a team effort with Catholic Charities Kentucky Office for Refugees and Kentucky Refugee Ministries. It gave 250 refugees a chance to receive Tdap, varicella, MMR, influenza and Td vaccines. It gave students valuable experience.

“It’s a chance to teach our students about existing health disparities and how we can improve our capabilities as we learn more about the unique and varied cultures represented. It is a priceless experience for all of us,” said associate professor Ruth Carrico.

Carrico led the project with Julio Ramirez, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the School of Medicine. Said Abusalem, assistant professor, worked with Carrico to involve nursing students and arranged for their participation in the vaccination clinics.

For some students, the day provided their first interaction with people from other cultures.

“This is an opportunity I haven’t received elsewhere,” said Alex Wilborn, a nursing student from Owensboro, Ky. “We’ve vaccinated people from numerous countries including Nepal, Somalia, Cuba, Iran and Iraq.”

It’s exciting to see how his nursing knowledge can make a difference in the community, said Casey Baldwin, a student from Maysville, Ky.

UofL nursing clinical groups have participated in the refugee vaccination clinic since it started in mid-October and the university’s participation will continue next year. Carrico said she hopes to eventually involve students from other areas like social work, Pan-African studies or language majors so they too, can benefit from real-world cultural experiences while serving the community.

Julie Heflin
Julie oversees digital content for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She began her UofL career on the Health Sciences Center campus in 2007. Prior to this, Julie was a journalist with WFPL (Louisville Public Media), and occasionally filed reports for National Public Radio.