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St. Luke’s recruits nursing students to administer vaccines in area clinics

Students from area nursing schools have stepped up to administer COVID-19 vaccinations in clinics within their communities, and for many the chance to do so is profound.

“I’m honored to do this and feeling really good about it,” said Maritza Muniz, a 41-year-old, first-year student at St. Luke’s School of Nursing who has been helping at the COVID vaccination clinic at St. Luke’s Bethlehem campus. “I want to tell my grandkids that I was part of this change during the pandemic.”

St. Luke’s University Health Network recruited students from St. Luke’s School of Nursing, Northampton Community College, Lehigh Community College, Moravian College, Cedar Crest College and De Sales University to help.

Muniz, who has participated in medical missionary trips to Guatemala and Kenya, said she will serve wherever she is needed, but is particularly glad to be helping within her own community.

“This is personal,” Muniz said. “This is my community.”

Prior to starting nursing school Muniz, of Allentown, worked as a medical assistant at the Miller Keystone Blood Bank for 14 years, putting her son, 23, through college.

Kerlly Barba, 25, of Allentown, also has been administering vaccines at the Hispanic Center and the clinic at St. Luke’s Bethlehem. While she is happy to help, she also is excited by the reactions of those receiving the shots.

Holding a small seashell with a happy face painted on it, she explained it was a gift from a vaccine recipient.

“This was her way of thanking me,” Barba said.

Barba, a native of Ecuador, and Muniz, who was born in Puerto Rico and has family living on the island, both worry about residents and family members.

“We know how hard it is to get good health care in Ecuador,” Barba said. “There’s a lot of death there from COVID.”

While Muniz is happy to live in Allentown and have access to high-quality health care, she worries about her family members in Puerto Rico.

“I’m grateful being here, but I hope my mother can get the vaccine soon,” she said.

Nursing students will continue their service at area clinics as people return for second shots in March and April.

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