Webster faculty helps vaccinate St. Louis community


Nursing Professor Mary Ann Drake looked at her patient after vaccinating them against COVID-19. The patient had tears in her eyes; she was a recovering cancer survivor who hadn’t seen her family. Drake made it possible for the patient to be reunited with them.

An elderly man walked into Carpenters Hall on March 6. He sat down with Webster nursing professor Jody Spiess. That moment was the first human contact he’d had in over a year.

Spiess gave this man his first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

“The tears in his eyes, you knew that he genuinely hadn’t sat with anybody in that long,” Spiess said.

Webster University nursing faculty members have been volunteering to help St. Louis City’s Department of Health administer vaccines.

Nursing professor Mary Ann Drake also had an emotional experience with a patient who started crying after receiving the vaccine.

“She said she had recovered from cancer and hadn’t been able to see her family,” Drake said. “Now she could. She was so grateful.”

Around 1,000 vaccines were given to St. Louisans on March 6.

Dr. Fredrick Echols, the City Health Department director, reached out to Spiess to enlist Webster University’s help with vaccinations. Spiess then recruited members of Webster’s nursing faculty to help with the cause.

Spiess hopes that the number of people vaccinated keeps going up steadily.

“The longer the virus is out there and spreading, the more likely it is to change into a new variant,” Spiess said. “The quicker folks are vaccinated, the quicker the pandemic will end.”

Community partnerships between the health departments and local universities enabled Webster faculty to start vaccinating people. Both Spiess and Drake appreciate how the partnerships have made this process more efficient.

“We help each other,” Drake said. “If you are known by community members, they trust you and your work and want you to be involved.”

Spiess felt that the City Health Department executed the vaccination process smoothly. The vaccine shots themselves were pre-drawn and patients had already filled out paperwork. This was a big help to the volunteers giving them out, according to Spiess.

After being called up from the line, patients go inside and hand their paperwork to the nurses, who worked in groups of two. One nurse fills out the patient’s vaccination card with their information and the date of the next COVID-19 shot. The other nurse gives them the shot.

The nurses make sure the patient has no major risk factors before giving them the shot. This could include being on blood thinners or having a reaction to a vaccine previously.

Webster nursing faculty will be at it again this Saturday– they’ll be vaccinating at America’s Center downtown. Spiess said her nursing students will soon get involved with the St. Louis County Health Department vaccination efforts.

Saint Louis University and Washington University both had nursing faculty and students present at Carpenters Hall. Spiess said that’s another reason she rallied nursing faculty to volunteer.

“If you’re not doing it just because it’s the right thing to do, I think it’s important for Webster,” Spiess said. “We can show them that we have nursing programs too, and that we care.”

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Charlotte Renner
Photo Editor | + posts


I am a journalism major minoring in photography and anthropology. I love art, music, reading and spending time outdoors. My goal is to go into the environmental communications field.