A VCU family of vaccinators

April 19, 2021 - Joan Tupponce

Virginia Commonwealth University student Nathan Pal and his parents have more in common than their family tree. All three have ties to VCU — Nathan as a Pharm.D.-M.B.A. dual-degree student and his parents as alums — and all three and are volunteering to administer COVID-19 vaccinations for the Henrico County Health Department, which hit its 100,000th vaccination the first weekend of April. 

“We started with 1,000 to 1,500 vaccinations on January 22 and now we are doing around 5,000 a day at Richmond Raceway,” said Shubhro Pal, Pharm.D., Nathan’s father and pharmacy director at Westwood Pharmacy. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the VCU School of Medicine in 1994.

Nympha Dalgado, Nathan’s mother, a pediatric nurse practitioner and pediatric mental health nurse practitioner, helps her husband administer vaccinations at Westwood Pharmacy in Henrico’s West End and Richmond Raceway just north of the city when she’s finished seeing her patients.

“The more people we can vaccinate, the sooner we can get to herd immunity,” said Dalgado, who earned a master's from the VCU School of Nursing in the pediatric nurse practitioner concentration in 1994.

Dalgado also works with the faith community to encourage older adults to get vaccinated. “That is another way to get to the population — in their place of worship — to say how important the vaccine is for saving lives,” she said. 

Shubhro Pal enlisted Nathan’s help to ask fellow students at the VCU School of Pharmacy if they would volunteer to help with the vaccination process. “Students are so willing and ready to volunteer when they can,” Nathan said.

His father also reached out to Joseph T. DiPiroPharm.D., dean of the School of Pharmacy, to ask for his assistance.

“He connected us to the right team at VCU to start the volunteer process,” Shubhro Pal said.

DiPiro, whose team at the School of Pharmacy helped set up the VCU Vaccine Corps and other efforts to enlist students as volunteer vaccinators, said he was happy to help.

“We are fortunate that so many of our students are trained to administer vaccines, which has let them step up quickly,” DiPiro said. “Nathan and his family are volunteering their training and experience to help end this pandemic. We couldn’t be more proud.” 

Nathan Pal, who is on the executive board for the student chapter of the Industry Pharmacists Organization at VCU, has been speaking to students about vaccination efforts in the state.

“My dad has been one of the most pivotal figures in Virginia as far as extending vaccines to people, especially the older population,” he said.