Volunteers help vaccination clinic run as smoothly as ice (photo gallery)


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Above right is Monica Caro, senior associate director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, who served as a volunteer at the clinic. Photo gallery appears at end of article. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/ University of Notre Dame)

Notre Dame has seen plenty of wins inside the Compton Family Ice Arena, but the latest one is not related to hockey. At Compton last week, the University completed the first round of two Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination clinics for Notre Dame students, retirees, faculty, staff and dependents and the University met its goal to have 90 percent of the student body vaccinated with at least the first dose.

“There was genuine excitement in people’s eyes when they received the vaccine. I saw a lot of high-fives and smiles as people moved through the site,” said Mike Seamon, vice president for campus safety and University operations.

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Interested in volunteering at the next clinic? Click to sign up.

The first phase of the clinic took place from Thursday, April 8, to Thursday, April 15. During that time, more than 85 percent of the vaccines were administered to students and the clinic was able to serve over 300 dependents of faculty, staff and students.

Leadership noted the operation would not have run so smoothly if not for the volunteers. 

“We were humbled to see the number of faculty, staff and students who offered to help in any way needed. More than 400 faculty, staff and student volunteers signed up to work at least one shift,” Seamon said. “Their involvement had a direct effect on the operations being so smooth and the experiences of those being vaccinated being quick, easy and convenient. This is Notre Dame at its best.”

Brian Fremeau, director of facility operations, leads the Vaccine Administration Team. 

“Notre Dame has a wonderful tradition of rallying together when called, but the response from every corner of the University was overwhelming and, as Mike noted, humbling,” Fremeau said, adding, “We needed to mobilize a large and coordinated group of people to make this entire operation run smoothly and efficiently, and they stepped up.” 

Colleen Sharkey was one of the staff who stepped up. She normally serves the University as an assistant director of media relations covering social sciences, the Keough School of Global Affairs and Notre Dame International. At the clinic, she completed administrative duties, scheduling people’s second vaccinations and submitting immunization records to the state health department.

“My mom taught me and my siblings by example to volunteer our time and talents as much and as often as possible,” Sharkey said. “I have volunteered for many different causes and organizations in my adult life. Volunteering for this clinic has made me feel useful during a period when so many of us feel helpless. I wanted to do my part — however small it is — to help end this terrible pandemic.”

Seamon and Fremeau also thanked the volunteers’ managers for allowing them to serve at the clinic. “Thank you for lending us your talented team members to help the University at this critical time,” Seamon said.

And as much as leadership was impressed by volunteers, the volunteers were impressed by those operating the clinic.

“It was amazing to watch the creative attention to details and commitment to continuous improvement in action,” said clinic volunteer Monica Caro, senior associate director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies. “For instance, I noticed that managers made process adjustments between Friday and Saturday to make the system run even more efficiently.”

The second phase of the vaccination campaign will take place Thursday, April 29, to Thursday, May 6. That’s when people will receive their second doses. Under that time frame, graduating students who have been vaccinated at the Notre Dame clinics should be protected in time for Commencement on Sunday, May 23. Faculty, staff, retirees and students interested in volunteering at the next clinic are encouraged to fill out this volunteer form.

Notre Dame is among other universities requiring all undergraduate, graduate and professional students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus in the fall. The clinics make it easy for current students to receive vaccinations.