UH Center for Student Involvement Honors UHCOP Hispanic Pharmacy Student Association, Advisor with Awards
May 5 — In recognition of their work towards vaccine awareness in the Hispanic community, UH College of Pharmacy’s Hispanic Pharmacy Student Association (HPSA) and its co-advisor, UHCOP faculty member MariVi Tejada-Simon, Ph.D., M.Ed., were recognized with the Outstanding Program and Outstanding Advisor awards, respectively, at the UH Center for Student Involvement's 38th Annual Campus Leaders Ceremony April 19.
HPSA was recognized for hosting and/or participating in several events from summer through the end of the 2022 as part of its "Building Community Through Vaccine Awareness and Equity" campaign, which was supported by a national grant from the National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF) and the Rockefeller Foundation. With Houston selected one of three geographic sites for the foundations' national pilot program, HPSA was awarded the grant to educate the region's Hispanic community on the safety and importance of staying current with immunizations, such as COVID-19, seasonal influenza and childhood vaccines.
As the Hispanic/Latino population is at higher risk of hypertension, diabetes and obesity, these chronic disease states also put these communities at increased risk for poor health outcomes or mortality associated with the flu or pneumonia. In addition, a 2022 analysis by Houston Public Media at UH found that 73% percent of Houston's COVID-19 deaths were among Black and Hispanic members of the community.
Public, Student Education
Among the events and activities in which the chapter engaged were:
- City of Houston Mayor's Back 2 School Fest in August 2022 – HPSA members joined fellow UHCOP students provided more than 1,200 wellness screenings, immunization record reviews, translation services and health education interactions;
- Sugar Land Space Cowboys Hispanic Heritage Night in September 2022 – Members provided vaccination education to attendees, many of whom weren't aware at the time that COVID-19 bivalent boosters recently received approval;
- HPSA x APhA-ASP Vaccine Translation Workshop in October 2022 – In collaboration with the UHCOP American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists Chapter, members educated fellow students on communicating vaccine information in Spanish;
- Consulate of Mexico "Day of Health" Health Fair in November 2022 – Members provided wellness screenings and education to more than 50 Spanish-speaking visitors to the government office; and
- ¡Viva tu Vida! Get Up! Get Moving! Health Fair in November 2022 – Members provided nearly 100 wellness screenings and education to predominately Spanish-speaking community members at a Houston Hispanic Coalition-hosted event in southeast Houston.
The organization also created a variety of bilingual materials for future chapter members in reducing vaccine hesitancy, including immunization schedules, prediabetes risk assessments, blood pressure forms, cardiovascular health, infographics, and translation "cheat sheet" pocket cards for health professionals.
In its award application, HPSA leaders noted, "Looking at the people we have reached during all the interactions described before, we believe our outcomes have been fulfilled, bringing the right information and awareness towards abolishing vaccine hesitancy in the underserved populations of the Houston area."
'Concerted Effort to Promote'
The Outstanding Advisor Award is given to advisors who continuously support their students and are involved with the organization. HPSA chapter leaders highlighted her support throughout the year, but emphasized her leadership role in helping the chapter secure the NHHF/Rockefeller grant as well as helping to recruit a registered pharmacist preceptor at the last minute so that the organization could legally fulfill its commitment to volunteering at a community health fair.
"Her dedication is further highlighted by the fact that she always makes a concerted effort to promote our various activities, including promotions, bake sales and fundraisers, among her colleagues," noted HPSA's nomination letter for Tejada-Simon.
— Logan Linder