Getting it right during Operation Immunization

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | October 11, 2018

Image with caption: John Ridgway, director of the office of experiential programs in the College of Pharmacy, received his flu shot from student Jenna Engel at an

John Ridgway, director of the office of experiential programs in the College of Pharmacy, received his flu shot from student Jenna Engel at an "Operation Immunization" clinic in 2016. Now Jenna Engel, Pharm.D., Dr. Engel currently serves as a float pharmacist for CVS/Target throughout the region.

When you get your flu shot at the "Operation Immunization" clinic at the UNMC Center for Drug Discovery and Lozier Center for Pharmacy Sciences and Education, you'll get the needle in your right arm, no questions asked.

Why the right arm?

Research, that's why!

The "Operation Immunization" project, a collaboration between the College of Pharmacy, employee health, student health and the UNMC chapter of the American Pharmacists Association -- Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP), is not just part of a campus-wide effort to ensure employees and students are vaccinated against the flu.

It's also part of an ongoing study. So, pharmacist interns (pharmacy students) aren't just administering flu shots to their fellow UNMC brethren.

They also are discovering the most efficacious (research term) methods for doing so.

Back to the right arm:

"Most people are right-handed," said Ally Dering-Anderson, Pharm.D., clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice.


"The best way to avoid a sore arm is to move the muscle," Dr. Dering-Anderson said.

Aha! So those of us who thought we were smart, asking for the shot in our "off" arm . . . turns out, the science says no.

But, another reason they don't give us our choice of arm: "It takes up to a minute to move all of the sharps containers, chairs, etc., when we switch up arms," Dr. Dering-Anderson said. "We did 142 flu shots (the other day). That could have been an additional 142 minutes of time!"

Not to mention any additional seconds spent hemming and hawing. Hmm . . . right or left? Those seconds add up, too.

No, the people in line behind you are grateful it's right arm and done, and the operation keeps running, steady and smooth.

It's especially good that the "Operation Immunization" crew has this down to an, um, science -- the clinics have been crazy-busy (non-research term).

The OI clinics have served hundreds of people through employee health. Student numbers won't be tallied until the end of the run.

Last year, OI and the pharmacy students administered more than 1,000 vaccinations, and Kim Battreal, a nurse with Nebraska Medicine and student health, won a national award for her role in the project.

Dr. Dering-Anderson was effusive in her praise for the team, including students, lab techs and staff, who have "rocked it." (This really should be a research term.)

If you still need a flu shot, check dates, times and locations here.


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