Alyssa Maier, University of Findlay Pharm.D. candidate ’23 and Edon, Ohio native, was recently given an incredible opportunity to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to Ramona Heinzerling, her 105-year-old great-grandmother.
Maier is a Pharmacy Intern at CVS Pharmacy, where she was asked if she would help administer the COVID-19 vaccine. For the past three years, Maier has been participating in flu vaccine clinics around the Findlay community through the pharmacy fraternity, Kappa Epsilon, on campus, of which she is currently the president. When asked by CVS pharmacists if she could help distribute the COVID-19 vaccine at long-term care facilities, she was very interested in helping. “I really enjoy working in vaccine clinics, I have for a long time,” she said. “So, when the COVID-19 vaccine came out, I was extremely excited to help and I just really like administering vaccines, it’s just really fun for me.”
Luckily for Maier, one of the long-term care facilities that her CVS vaccination team would be visiting is where her 105-year-old great grandmother lives. “When we first got there, I automatically felt so happy. I knew I was finally able to see my grandma and it had been months since anyone in my family had been able to see her,” said Maier.
Upon entering the room, Maier was suited up in her mask, gloves, and white coat, which made it difficult for her great-grandma to see who she was. But, once Maier started talking, her great-grandma lit up with joy. “I remember I almost started crying because I was so excited and happy to see her, it was just such a nice and heartfelt moment,” she said. “I was able to talk to her about my classes, work, family, everything really. When I got around to administering her vaccine, she said she didn’t even feel it, that it was the easiest shot she has gotten in 105 years and was claiming that I am a vaccine expert. It was just an awesome experience.” A benefit of the COVID-19 vaccine for Maier is that it requires two doses, so she was able to see her great-grandma for a second time to administer her last dose of the vaccine.
“My great-grandma was a teacher for a long time, so she has always been super excited and supportive of my sister and me going to college and me becoming a pharmacist,” added Maier. “She really thinks it’s the coolest thing ever because back in her day women only had three different options on what they could do for a career. She is just really proud of me working to become a doctor because women couldn’t be doctors when she was growing up.”
Once Maier decided that pharmacy was the career path she wanted to take, she started looking at pharmacy schools, which led her to University of Findlay. Maier decided to check out UF College of Pharmacy’s Pharmacy Summer Camp the summer before her senior year of high school. “Once I got to UF, it was such a nice and close-knit community, everyone seemed to know each other. Which I felt just fit me personally because that’s how my hometown is and that made UF really feel like home.” Maier mentioned that her experience at Pharmacy Summer Camp really spoke to her. She also noticed at camp, that she could get help from professors easily when she needed it, which still rings true today. Maier said, “the pharmacy professors are always so willing to help, eager to make you succeed, and will do just about everything in their power to let you succeed.”
To learn more about Findlay’s Pharmacy Program, please visit the Pharmacy webpage.