Vaccines on wheels
Access to the COVID-19 vaccine has dominated the national conversation, where there has been considerable debate over the systemic inequities embedded in the country’s inoculation. Much of the American population faces considerable hurdles to getting a shot (no pun intended) at protecting themselves and their communities; this is often due to homelessness, debilitating illness, geographical location, or personal questioning about whether or not to get the vaccine.
A California county has deployed a mobile vaccination unit to reach these specific groups of people who face complications in securing a vaccine. Marin County’s mobile vaccine teams which (as of the beginning of April) have delivered 8,000 shots since mid-December. Marin County’s mobile vaccine squad has two teams. One is headed by nurses and EMTs who primarily target homeless shelters and low-income/long-term senior housing. The other team exclusively does home visits. This is particularly crucial for homebound residents, who are able to get the shot at their door during a time when they may have no other alternative form of access.
Despite the fact that Marin County boasts an impressive median household income of $115,000, economic inequality still looms. For this reason, the mobile vaccination program combed through census data for the area to identify specific residential spaces where people may have the most difficulties receiving a vaccine. Amongst the demographics that the vaccination teams took into account were age, race, and poverty levels.
Quoted in a Bloomberg.com article, Linda Dobra, who heads one of the vaccine teams, emphasizes that “It’s all the logistics that go into planning and consenting and observing and set-up that takes time.” However, statistics speak for the mobile vaccine teams’ tireless logistical efforts to protect the communities lying in Marin’s 830 square miles; as of early April, almost 59% of the county’s over-16 population and 81% of its over-65 population have at least one dose, best for third amongst California’s 58 counties.