Mobile Units Taking COVID-19 Shots Directly To Underserved Communities

Mar 10, 2021, 5:56 PM | Updated: 11:19 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Salt Lake County Health Department took COVID-19 vaccines directly to those who need them the most on Wednesday.

Outreach teams are using two new mobile health centers to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. On Wednesday, they set up a drive-through neighborhood vaccination clinic on the west side of Salt Lake City.

Directing patients at the mobile vaccination clinic. (KSL TV) A look at some of the messaging on the mobile vaccination clinic. (KSL TV)

The large recreational vehicles are retrofitted with medical equipment, and county workers use them to reach underserved populations.

“I got pressure at home to get it, so I got it here,” said Michael Kauffman, who rolled up his sleeve for the shot Wednesday afternoon. “The opportunity arose and I took it.”

Kauffman said the pandemic gave him cabin fever, and the year has been too quiet and nerve-wracking. He heard about the neighborhood clinic and preregistered for his vaccination.

“This is pretty much where we came to get our university testing done during the peak of the thing, and who wants to get sick and die?” Kauffman said.

Now that he’s had his first dose?

“I feel a lot relieved. I’ll feel better in three weeks,” he said, referring to when he’ll start to feel more comfortable about getting back to a more normal lifestyle.

With mobile units, county health care workers take COVID-19 vaccinations to neighborhoods and individuals who might not have an opportunity to get the vaccine further from home.

“A lot of community members feel more comfortable in their neighborhoods,” said Lorena Riffo-Jenson, Salt Lake County Health Department spokesperson.

They are putting on similar vaccination clinics most days somewhere in the county.

“There was a large group of our community members that were affected here,” said Riffo-Jenson, indicating that ZIP codes in that neighborhood had higher rates of COVID-19 at times during the pandemic. The shots are keeping the statewide vaccine line moving.

“The mobile van is just here to make it so much quicker for us to set up and make this more accessible for everyone,” said Riffo-Jenson.

Jonathan Vial, a community health worker volunteering with the clinic, said, “The more people we get vaccinated, the faster we can get through this thing.”

As a member of the Hispanic community, Vial said it’s important for him to be involved and let people know they can trust the vaccine and the people giving it.

“I think that’s huge,” he said. “There’s a great deal of misinformation and sometimes the minority communities don’t trust some of these things, so it’s important for them to feel comfortable when they’re here and have somebody speak to them in their own language.”

Right now, the mobile health centers are being used in specific locations, giving shots to people who have preregistered. There are not any walk-up vaccinations.

“It just makes it more accessible and then you can vaccinate more people,” said Riffo-Jenson.

The mobile health centers cost approximately $250,000 each. Salt Lake County bought them with federal money provided through the CARES Act.

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Mobile Units Taking COVID-19 Shots Directly To Underserved Communities