When UT Health San Antonio President William L. Henrich, MD, named a COVID-19 Vaccine Assessment and Access Task Force on Nov. 16, he understood the critical impact that student engagement could have. Among the 29 highly experienced and multidisciplinary team members is medical student Meredith Hosek.

Meredith Hosek
Meredith Hosek, a student in the dual MD/MPH program and COVID-19 Response Research intern, is serving on the UT Health San Antonio COVID-19 Vaccine Assessment and Access Task Force.

Hosek, a student in the dual MD/MPH program, is taking a year off from her studies to work as a COVID-19 Response Research intern under Barbara Taylor, MD, associate professor of infectious diseases and member of the vaccine task force.

As a research intern, Hosek oversees clinical and research aspects of the COVID-19 Infectious Diseases Virtual Outpatient Clinic and assists with UT Health San Antonio’s COVID-19 vaccine trials as a research assistant for the Division of Infectious Diseases—a unique opportunity in the middle of a historic pandemic.

Now, the Dallas native is in the midst of a highly complex, high-stakes review and assessment of COVID-19 vaccines, ethical considerations surrounding the vaccines and the numerous details of distributing and administering the drugs to the UT Health San Antonio community.

The task force, she said, “is trying to be very thorough and careful about what we’re recommending to our own community and how to allocate it.”

Hosek described the group as impressive in its breadth of knowledge, diversity and compassion. The task force is co-chaired by Thomas Patterson, MD, chief of infectious diseases in the Long School of Medicine and a leader in the clinical trial testing of remdesivir, an antiviral drug for COVID-19 patients, and Michael Charlton, PhD, assistant vice president for risk management and safety.

She said working as a COVID-19 research intern “is an invaluable opportunity to learn about how people can make the best decisions under incredible pressures and often with little information. A lot of what I’ve learned this year is in leadership and teamwork.”

And, Hosek added, she’s honored to be the only student on the task force.

“I’m not in any classes right now, so I have the time to seek input from my peers,” she said. “Including the student body in these decisions is likely to create a more receptive response.”

While she’s undecided about a medical specialty, Hosek said her passion is public health, a key component in fighting a virus like COVID-19. And while COVID-19 is the first pandemic of her medical career, she believes it definitely won’t be the last.