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USciences Alumni, Students Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on December 23, 2020

USciences alumni and students working on the front lines in healthcare institutions were among some of the first to be vaccinated for COVID-19. For many, the vaccine is a sign of hope for the future and a symbol of the importance of science and healthcare. 

Matt Liaw PharmD’12

Pharmacist, The Navajo Area Indian Health Service

Matt Liaw

“It was important for me to get the vaccine because I wanted to protect myself and be an example to others that the vaccine is safe,” said Dr. Liaw. “There are a few people in my circle who voiced fears about the vaccine and I believed that if someone they knew received and posted about it they would feel more comfortable with getting vaccinated.”  

Dr. Liaw was selected along with his coworkers because they work with the Navajo. Native Americans have been more susceptible to disease than other populations so getting vaccinated early helps to protect them and protects other patients, said Liaw. He said getting the vaccination was as quick as a flu shot and only left him with a sore arm for a few days.

“There are also some fears in the community over whether they can trust the government and I hope that by showing our eagerness to receive vaccines, we can help bridge this trust,” he said.

Thomas Burke P'95, MBA

President, Saint Francis Hospital; Hartford, CT

Thomas BurkeBurke administered the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to colleagues after completing an immunization training program for pharmacists.

"Even before the COVID-19 vaccine became available, we asked all clinical leaders to dedicate some time each week to the vaccination efforts, with an emphasis on the need for nurses and pharmacists," said Burke. "As a pharmacist myself, I hadn't previously taken the steps necessary to become certified as a vaccinator. Now, during these unprecedented times, I felt it was my duty to become certified so that I could join my colleagues in the clinic as a vaccinator, providing the same service I was asking them to provide." 

Jessica Hughes MT'04

Supervisor of Clinical Flow Cytometry Testing, VA San Diego Healthcare System

Jessica Hughes

"I'm getting vaccineated to help move the human race out of this panedemic, so we can get back to the 'old normal.'"

Amanda Smeber PharmD'21, Blaine Hummel PharmD'21, Jillyan Serrano PharmD'21, and Alex Kleidon PharmD'21

Students on Rotation with with the Indian Health Service in Crownpoint, NM

Students on RotationThe students were vaccinated on rotation and have also been manning the mass vaccination clinics. "The Navajo Nation has been hit very hard by the virus so it has been amazing to help flight the pandemic here," said Sember.

Margo Graybill PharmD'22

Pharmacy Intern, Balliet's Family Pharmacy in Sunbury, PA

Margo Graybill

"I'm feeling excited and hopeful!"

Adam Haydt BC'09, DO (Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine)

Office Site Lead and Faculty, Department of Family Medicine, Lehigh Valley Health Network

Adam Haydt

"I feel fortunate to receive my two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The pandemic has been trying for everyone. To see safe and effective vaccine choices for the United States population means the pandemic will be manageable sooner. I recommend the vaccine to anyone who is eligible. My USciences education has continued to prove useful. I’ve looked back on notes I had from Dr. Porter’s (cell biology) and Dr. Snow’s (biochemistry) classes in order to describe the vaccine’s mechanism of action. Showing patients how the vaccines work has eased a lot of fears surrounding mRNA vaccine technology."

Alumni: Share your COVID-19 vaccine photos and stories with us! Email Jenna Pizzi at

Categories: News, Alumni, Coronavirus, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Students