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More UW students volunteering to vaccinate than shots available

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MADISON (WKOW) -- At the end of January, UW pharmacy and nursing students joined the fight to vaccinate Wisconsinites against COVID-19 -- receiving a $500 tuition credit to help out.

Since then, 3rd year PharmD student Maggie Hoernke has given her first COVID-19 shot -- and plenty more.

"Like 100 plus, maybe?" she said. "It's so funny because being a health care student, you don't always realize the impact you're making."

We first introduced you to Hoernke in January. She's organized nearly 200 students to help give out vaccines at 17 locations across both southern Wisconsin and as far north as Green Bay.

"We have students around the state right now, especially because we're online," Hoernke said. "Some students are living back at home rather than in Madison."

She says the number of students is growing quickly, after Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI) signed a law less than two weeks ago expanding who can administer COVID-19 vaccines.

But while the help is bountiful, the vaccines haven't been. Deliveries to many pharmacies have come up short.

"It has been a little bit frustrating," Hoernke said. "We've been needing to even cancel volunteers because they're not getting enough vaccines. (Pharmacies) have had to cancel appointments for their patients to come get their first vaccine... For once, I've coordinated something that has more volunteers than we need."

But 47,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines are expected to arrive in Wisconsin next week.

"I'm hoping that kind of expands access and kind of mitigates that problem a little bit," Hoernke said.

The students are also all set to accompany National Guard members at mobile vaccination sites. That hasn't happened yet, but Hoernke says they're ready if called upon.

"Our exams are kind of hitting now, and I've noticed that our volunteer numbers aren't dwindling because of that," she said. "Being able to say you were a part of it is really cool, and a lot of students feel that way."

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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