From the labs of Regis: Meet an alumnus at the forefront of Pueblo’s vaccine effort

When some of Pueblo’s most vulnerable residents leave their homes for the first time in months to line up at the city’s drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site, Josh Gallegos is one of the first people they’ll see since the pandemic began.

They haven’t been to stores. They haven’t seen friends and family.

When these residents drive up to Gallegos, their joy is palpable. “They just want to chat, you know?” he said. “I have seen so many people I know — friends, family, my priest. It’s amazing you can make a direct impact and see people so happy and joyous that they’re getting the vaccine.”

It’s the happiest Gallegos has felt at work in months.

A 2013 Regis biochemistry and molecular biology alumnus, Gallegos is an environmental health specialist and public information officer at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment, which serves both the city and county of Pueblo. Before the pandemic, he was a restaurant health inspector and backup media contact. These days, his job is to address all the health-related issues the pandemic demands.

At the start of the pandemic, Gallegos fielded calls from media, wrote news releases and helped manage the city’s COVID-19 joint information center. Now, the health department is distributing 1,000 vaccines per day.

When the vaccine rollout began, Gallegos managed the logistics of the vaccination site daily, only going home after 10- to 12-hour shifts.

“As much as those are long, cold, rough days sometimes, it’s worth it,” he said. “The thing that makes me the proudest is that I’m making a direct impact with the community.”

Gallegos said his years at Regis prepared him for the challenges of the pandemic.

“I’m thankful for my time at Regis and the lessons I’ve learned, just understanding that it’s greater than yourself and what you do can make a direct impact,” he said. “When you’re 18 or 21, it may not make a lot of sense, but it has to marinate … When, maybe, a global pandemic hits, you’re like, ‘Oh, this is where this comes in.’”

Gallegos said he can’t help but think of all of his classmates who have gone on to make an impact in similar ways during the pandemic. Some of his closest college friends work as pharmacists and physicians. His Regis lab partner and best friend works at Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that developed the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for use in the United States.

“All of my friends at Regis – we went to school together and were taking biochemistry and biology classes,” Gallegos said. “Little did we know that we were going to be in the history books.”

When he’s keeping an eye on the line at the vaccination site, Gallegos knows better days are ahead.

“There are going to be more and more of them, and there’s going to come a day we can take that mask off and be able to hug someone again,” Gallegos said. “Every single day that I work out there is another day closer. That’s what keeps me going.”


Alumnus Josh Gallegos takes a photo after receiving the 

COVID-19 vaccine.