Infectious Disease

Mobile COVID-19 vaccination events can break down barriers to entry

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By mid-March, FEMA had helped the CDC and local partners run more than 500 mobile COVID-19 vaccination events in the United States

Mobile units can be used in shelters for the homeless or to care for people who are unable to travel to a vaccination site or who do not live near a permanent location.

Source: FEMA.gov.

“When people are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, one obstacle is finding a vaccination center near their home,” FEMA said. “Mobile and pop-up centers are locations that can be set up anywhere with support from facilities such as local public health clinics, health care providers, pharmacies, community and religious organizations, employers, private sector vaccines, and federal resources.”

Healio spoke to Larry King, a Bucks County, Pennsylvania spokesman working with the County Department to implement mobile vaccination units. The units are currently administering the one-time Johnson & Johnson vaccine to avoid having to make second appointments, King said.

Healio: How do you identify people to be vaccinated with these units?

King: Our Emergency Services Department worked with our Housing and Community Development Department to have our vaccination company, AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, bring a team in a van to three local homeless shelters: one in Lower Bucks County on Tuesday (plans to vaccinate 70 people) , one in Upper Bucks County on Wednesday (50 people) and one in Central Bucks on Thursday (50 people). These doses are given in the shelters. The van simply takes the team to the locations.

We also have a list of more than 300 people identified by our local aging agency and health department who are being visited by smaller strike teams of health department staff and volunteers in their homes.

Healio: Do you only go door to door or do you settle in public places?

King: We continue to use our Department of Health strike teams to visit Housing Authority properties that primarily serve the elderly and low-income residents. This is a process that has been going on with two-dose vaccines for several weeks, but it is only being switched to Johnson & Johnson.

Healio: Are there any clear storage considerations?

King: Our teams have access to the coolers the Bucks County Department of Health has to help maintain the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if necessary.

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