CCC nurses lend a hand with COVID-19 vaccinations

Date: Monday, 22nd February 2021

CCC Nursing student Jodie Santillan talks with resident Lita Byerly before giving Byerly a COVID-19 vaccination during a shift at the Coconino County vaccination site at the Fort Tuthill County Park on Feb. 12.



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - “Do you have any allergies?”




“Do you have a fever?”




As she received answers, Coconino Community College Nursing student Jodie Santillan marked off a checklist. She prepared the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to deliver to Coconino County resident Lita Byerly. She swabbed Byerly’s arm, and before too much thought could be put into whether Byerly would feel it, Santillan delivered the vaccine.


It was one of more than 30 she delivered that day, doing the work to help fulfill her clinical requirements for the Nursing program. All of CCC’s 55 first-year and second-year Nursing students have done or will do at least one clinical rotation at the Fort Tuthill County Park COVID-19 vaccination site.


“As a nursing program, we’re committed to the community we serve,” said Katherine Costa, CCC’s Director of Nursing and Allied Health. “This is a way to contribute and have students be a part of such an historical time. And they get clinical experience.”


Santillian, who is in her last semester, began her shift at 8:30 a.m. at the newly constructed, and much larger, facility being run by Coconino County Health and Human Services (CCHHS).


Debbie Branson, Nurse Supervisor for CCHHS, said that the site has grown with the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to accommodate the need in the county. 


“Their help has allowed us to increase the site, which has allowed us to increase our numbers,” Branson said.


The site has been open extended hours to get more people vaccinated, and it is just one of several sites across the county now delivering the vaccine, Branson added. About 525 people are scheduled and vaccinated a day at the Fort Tuthill site.


Branson said that organizations like CCC, with their Nursing students are helpful to fill gaps in delivering vaccinations at an increased pace.


“And what a great learning experience for them,” she added.


Santillan, born and raised in Flagstaff and who graduated from Coconino High School, said she started her shift a bit nervous, but after she went through the process a couple of times, she settled.


“It’s a really good flow,” she said, adding that she takes turns delivering vaccines with fellow CCC student Tyler Padilla, also born and raised in Flagstaff.


Padilla said she arrived early, and her first few procedures were “messy” because it was windy, and she didn’t know how to juggle the paperwork and the swab and the bandage and the vaccine all at once.


“But I figured it out,” she said, smiling. She added that she began to find a rhythm and she lost count of how many vaccines she delivered. Injecting a person in the arm while they are sitting in a car is not the same has injecting somebody in a more clinical setting. “It’s been interesting.”


A few steps away, CCC Nursing student Marette Gebhardt, filled syringes with the Moderna vaccine 20 at a time. As well as attending CCC full time as a Nursing student, she also works full time for the county health department. She already has a bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Northern Arizona University.


“I worked with a lot of nurses, and they inspired me to go back (to school),” Gebhardt said, while filling a syringe with the vaccine. Each vial contains 10 doses.


Her goal is to become a community health nurse, serving the underserved in a community.


“I really enjoy it,” Gebhardt said. “I feel a connection with them, and I like meeting them where they are.”


Santillan has two children and hopes to get work as a nurse in Flagstaff once she completes her studies.


“I don’t know anything else,” Santillan said, adding that she’s always wanted to be a nurse. “This is my home. I feel comfortable here. My family’s here.”


Padilla likes the versatility of nursing. Nurses travel for hire, work in office settings, hospitals and more.


“And you get to help people,” Padilla said. “It feels good to help people when they need help. If you have the capability of helping people out, why not do it?”


Padilla, who is also a parent, is hopeful to stick close to home.


“I have a lot of family support here,” she said. “It’d be hard to leave.”


For more information about the CCC Nursing program, visit For more information about the Coconino County Health and Human Services vaccination effort, visit





All Dates

  • Monday, 22nd February 2021