PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nursing students at Oregon Coast Community College in Newport have been rolling up their sleeves — along with those of their patients — to get them vaccinated for COVID-19. Nearly 50 students have already partnered with Lincoln County Public Health to get shots in arms.

“It’s such an untapped resource. I hope by bringing awareness to it we can get the students out there and helping,” said Crystal Bowman, the college’s Director of Nursing. “The nursing students were able to administer first dose vaccines to first responders in Lincoln County.”

Bowman said when vaccines become more widely available there is going to be an even greater need for help at larger public clinics.

“This Friday they are helping with mass vaccination effort in Lincoln County at the fairgrounds, so there will be about 10 of them that day helping. And then next week, I have about 13 of them going back to the fire station and helping with second dose immunizations,” Bowman said.

“These are really unprecedented times.”

Others who would like to volunteer — such as retired nurses — might be called on to help down the road. The Oregon Center for Nursing‘s Jana Bitton said anyone who is interested can sign up on the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers — SERV-OR.

“There are opportunities there. We’ve been working pretty closely with the Oregon Health Authority and SERV-OR volunteer system to figure out how can we involve more people in vaccination right now,” Bitton said.

Bowman said her students are getting valuable clinical experience when they volunteer — and it’s also a way for student to serve their community.

“They are excited to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Bowman said.