Merced County Times Newspaper
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Merced College nursing program comes to the rescue

Students help mass vaccination clinic run smoothly, efficiently


Local nursing students and their instructors played a key role in this week’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Merced College. 

And you can call it “in-person learning.” 

Alongside community medical professionals and scores of volunteers, the students helped administer close to 2,500 Pfizer vaccines during the three-day mass clinic inside the campus gymnasium 

“The students are thrilled and excited to be part of this,” said Kitty Cazares, the RN program director at Merced College. “They realize this is how we can impact the health of not only our community, but the state, and even the nation. This is why we go into nursing. We are trying to make our community healthy.”

While the pandemic has closed many classroom study areas at the community college, the Allied Health Center Area on campus remains operational. That means Merced College could tap the talent from a pool of about 140 nursing students with immunization training, and a team of instructors who are able to provide oversight.  

“We can’t do it without them,” said Chris Vitelli, the college president. “That’s why we are able to do this. They have the resources and the willingness to do it.”

Dignity Health, UC Merced, and the Merced County Public Health Department worked together to make the clinic happen and acquire more doses as local leaders in recent weeks decried the way the state was allocating supplies based on the number of health care providers in this region.  

Registrations to receive the vaccine at this week’s clinic were filled up in less than 24 hours. Anyone older than 65 years of age or in Phase 1A of Merced County’s vaccine distribution plan was welcome to register. More vaccination clinics are scheduled for next week (see info below); however, social media reports indicate those filled up within two hours on Thursday after they were announced. 

Nevertheless, Merced College hopes to hold more vaccination clinics throughout the summer, according to Jill Cunningham, associate vice president of External Relations.

“We have this big space,” Cunningham pointed out. “Everybody knows where the Merced College gymnasium is. We can do this. We have the staff, We have the volunteers. And we have the nursing students.”

Said President Vitelli, “We are thankful for UC Merced and Dignity Health who helped acquire the vaccinations, and the partnership we have with County Public Health. The sooner we can get this county vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to normal — and that includes higher education.”

Vitelli added, “The more vaccinations we can get, the more clinics like this we can do because Merced College will step up to the plate every time.” 

As for the involvement of the nursing students, Vitelli predicted that will continue. 

“This is what we do,” he said. “We are preparing the future health care workforce. And they’re getting a front row seat in the fight to stop this pandemic.”  


Merced College to host two additional
COVID-19 vaccination clinics next week

Following a successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccination clinics this week, Merced County will host two additional clinics next week at Merced College.

Dignity Health-Mercy Medical Center, University of California Health, UC Merced, Merced College, City of Merced, and other health practitioners and volunteers have partnered with the County to facilitate these clinics. These vaccine doses were made available through Dignity Health and University of California Health.

  • When: Tuesday, Feb. 16, 1 p.m. – 6pm; Wednesday, Feb. 17, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Where: Merced College – Main Campus Gymnasium, 3600 M Street, Merced CA 95348

These clinics (by appointment only) are open to anyone 65 years or older or in Phase 1A of the County’s vaccine distribution plan, regardless of insurance, ability to pay or legal status. The age requirements are in accordance with the County’s phased eligibility tiers. There are enough vaccines to inoculate 1,170 people. The goal of these clinics is to reach Merced’s most vulnerable populations to ensure they receive timely access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Those vaccinated at next week’s clinics at Merced College will be immediately scheduled for their second dose appointment onsite. The second doses are expected to be scheduled for March 9 (for those who received their first dose Feb. 16) and March 10 (for those who received their first dose on Feb. 17).

The public is encouraged to visit to determine their eligibility and receive vaccination notifications to register for available appointments. Those who don’t have internet access can call the Merced County Public Health Information Line at 209-381-1180 for assistance (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Monday to Friday).


Clinic details, how to register and what to bring:

  • Individuals MUST be registered online or by phone to reserve an appointment – there will be NO WALK-UP appointments.
  • 1,170 doses will be provided at these clinics and appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis, prioritizing previously registered individuals.
  • Those who receive vaccinations will be registered for their second follow-up dose at the time they are vaccinated.
  • Each person registered MUST bring some form of identification to verify their age and/or phase AND a copy of their appointment confirmation that was emailed.
  • On-site parking is available (this is not a drive-through clinic).
  • Masks are required.
  • Participants should arrive 10 minutes prior to their appointment time to check in and allow for 15-30 minutes following the vaccination to be observed for any potential adverse reactions.
  • In an effort to reduce the volume of people at the clinic, we ask that only the individual getting vaccinated plus one other person attend.

Additional information about upcoming vaccination clinics will be shared as it becomes available from the County. If you have questions about these clinics, please visit or call the Merced County Public Health Information Line at 209-381-1180 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Monday to Friday).


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