BOZEMAN — Nursing students from the Montana State University College of Nursing have administered flu vaccinations to thousands of people across the state this fall, providing a service to community members while gaining valuable professional experience.

Nearly 125 nursing students from the college’s five campuses in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula administered flu vaccinations at more than 20 clinics held in Belgrade, Big Sky, Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula, as well as in Cascade, Glacier and Teton counties. One more flu vaccination clinic is yet to be held this month.

“These clinics benefit the community by making the flu vaccine available and convenient to receive,” said Ann Galloway, associate clinical professor and director of the MSU College of Nursing’s Bozeman campus. “This makes the entire community safer by contributing to the concept of herd immunity.” Herd immunity is the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.

Galloway added that the experience is also valuable for MSU’s participating nursing students, who are each pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

“The students get to participate in a primary prevention program that is focused on keeping the community healthy,” she said. “They get valuable experience in meeting community members, screening and giving lots of injections.”

In Bozeman, nursing students administered nearly 1,900 flu vaccinations at 14 clinics that were open to the community and held in conjunction with Bozeman Health, including clinics on Bozeman Health’s main campus, at two urgent care clinics, and in Belgrade and Big Sky. In addition, students are administering vaccinations on the MSU campus this week during the Montana University System’s Wellcheck events, which are held for MSU employees and their affiliates. In Great Falls, approximately 1,000 community members received flu vaccinations at two drive-through and walk-in clinics. In addition, students administered approximately 1,000 flu vaccinations in Cascade, Glacier and Teton counties, and at Malmstrom Air Force Base and at the Montana VA in Helena.

In Billings, students from the College of Nursing’s Billings campus assisted with flu vaccination clinics at St. Vincent Healthcare, which served hospital and clinic employees, as well as affiliate partners. In Missoula, students conducted two flu vaccination clinics on the MSU College of Nursing’s Missoula campus and also assisted with flu vaccinations at other clinical sites. And, in Kalispell, students provided flu vaccinations to students and faculty on the MSU College of Nursing Kalispell campus.

Funding for the clinics came from the clinics’ sponsoring agencies, Galloway said. Participants’ health insurance was billed, and most health insurance companies cover the full cost of the flu vaccine, she added. On the college’s Missoula and Kalispell campuses, student funds were used to purchase the flu vaccines that were provided to students.

Galloway noted that MSU College of Nursing students in Great Falls and Missoula have conducted flu vaccination clinics for at least six years, and students on the college’s Billings campus have partnered with St. Vincent Healthcare to provide flu vaccinations for 10 years. In Bozeman, students have participated in the MSU fall Wellcheck flu clinics for more than five years. However, this is the first year the college has partnered with Bozeman Health for its flu clinics – a collaboration Galloway calls a “big success.”

Students will assist Bozeman Health with one more flu vaccination clinic scheduled for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, at Bozeman Health’s Big Sky Medical Center.

The MSU College of Nursing educates students on its five campuses to be professional nurses capable of working in a variety of settings. It is also Montana’s only public provider of graduate nursing education and offers a master of nursing degree focused on rural clinical nurse leadership and a doctor of nursing practice program that prepares students for certification as family nurse practitioners or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. More information about the College of Nursing is available online at montana.edu/nursing/.

Posted at fairfieldsuntimes.com