Gregory School of Pharmacy Wins Grant for Work to Vaccinate Underserved Communities Against COVID-19

9/28/2021

Drs. Erenie Guirguis, Dana Strachan, Jay Jackson and Mariette Sourial meet to celebrate the news of their grant.The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation (NACDS) has awarded a $20,000 grant to three Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy faculty working to improve confidence in vaccines among South Floridians who are racial minorities and have low income.

Gregory School of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Dana A. Strachan accepted the award on behalf of Drs. Erenie Guirguis, Jay Jackson and Mariette Sourial, who submitted the proposal Pharmacist-Led Motivational Interviewing to Improve Vaccine Confidence in the Racial/Ethnic Minority and Low Socioeconomic South Florida Population.

The NACDS Foundation awarded $130,000 in scholarships to seven schools and colleges of pharmacy for their innovative and diverse educational programs that aim to advance patient care and public health. Earlier this month, the foundation presented the recipients with their merit-based scholarships at a virtual awards ceremony. 

The project aligns with the Gregory School of Pharmacy’s mission “pharmacy with faith,” Strachan said. The school serves the healthcare needs of the public by training future pharmacists to be patient-centered advocates who promote wellness and improve health outcomes. 

“I am confident this project will make a difference in the lives of patients and our community, Strachan said. “It will allow this amazing team to contribute to the medical literature.”

The Gregory School of Pharmacy will engage local nonprofit organizations and a team of pharmacists and student pharmacists to enhance awareness of COVID-19 vaccinations; to address vaccine hesitancy; and to provide appointment-based vaccinations for patients in underrepresented ethnic and racial communities.

“Racial/ethnic differences in COVID-19 vaccination rates have contributed to the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on minority communities,” said Jackson, who is leading the project. “We understand that for these individuals, there are numerous historical and socioeconomic factors that contribute to their vaccine hesitancy. Our plan is to use the power of conversation and empathy to engage unvaccinated individuals on a one-on-one basis and address their concerns related to the COVID-19 vaccines.”

The foundation gave five, $20,000 innovation-focused awards for patient-centered, community-based programs or other curricular innovations. In addition, the foundation awarded two pharmacy schools $15,000 grants to encourage and support diversity with their current or proposed programs among underrepresented populations.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shed light on the health inequities and disparities that exist in our country and disproportionately affect some of the most at-risk populations facing health threats and limited access to health and wellness – and these upcoming educational initiatives are helping to serve as solutions to these critical issues,” said NACDS Foundation President Sara Roszak.

Accredited colleges and schools of pharmacy were asked to submit applications for projects that include community-based research projects and patient-centered coursework, or other innovative curricula. This year, the NACDS Foundation received more than 40 scholarship applications from schools and colleges of pharmacy. Since the inception of the program, the NACDS Foundation awarded more than $4.5 million in scholarships.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization that improves the health and wellness of people in America through enhanced engagement in groundbreaking research and educational initiatives that benefit patients, improve outcomes, and advance public health. For more information, please visit www.nacdsfoundation.org/.

Photo: Drs. Erenie Guirguis, Dana Strachan, Jay Jackson and Mariette Sourial meet to celebrate the news of the grant.