(WFRV) – The roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine has strained the healthcare system across our state.

Major pharmacies have been hiring more staff to keep up with demand but that just doesn’t seem to be enough so pharmacy students are stepping in to fill the gap.

Maggie Hoernke, a 3rd year UW-Madison School of Pharmacy student, said, “When COVID-19 hit we were getting contacted by them [pharmacies] saying hey as soon as a vaccine’s available would you be able to help? And of course we said yes.”

Hoernke is an Oshkosh native and leading an effort by the “Wisconsin Society of Pharmacy Students” at UW-Madison to organize around 200 student volunteers to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

Students tell Local Five that without volunteers there just wouldn’t be enough man power to keep up with demand here in Wisconsin.

“There’s no way this could go on without volunteers, there’s just not enough people, not enough resources, you really need the extra hands,” said Hoernke.

The Medical College of Wisconsin not only has pharmacy students volunteering to administer the shots they also opened their doors in Milwaukee to create a clinic for the public to come to and recieve their vaccines.

Payeng Lor is a UW-Oshkosh nursing graduate volunteering as an immunizer at the Medical College where she is a first year pharmacy student.

Payeng Lor said, “Because of my nursing background I was able to administer the vaccines.”

And because the medical college runs an accelerated three year pharmacy program the second year students there are helping to vaccinate while first years help to facilitate the rest of the clinic work.

“As first year students we’re able to compound the medication, we basically can do anything but administer the vaccine,” said Lor.

Both of these women say it feels amazing to be able to impact their community and help stop the COVID-19 pandemic.