Officials at the Community Health Center in central Missouri said around 200 people received their first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines thanks to a mobile unit that went live earlier this year.
In November, the Cole County Commission approved federal funding of a Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for a 37-foot mobile trailer for COVID-19 testing, which could also be used to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The total cost was $ 328,893. The unit arrived in January.
“We were also able to run about 200 COVID tests in the mobile unit,” said Crystal Sullivan, the centre’s chief clinical officer. “We were with the Salvation Army on Jefferson Street. We set up four different Jefferson City Housing Authority facilities, a nursing home and a behavioral health facility. We also went to home patients and gave them vaccinations.”
Sullivan said the unit had two fully equipped exam rooms, just like those available at the center on Christy Drive, along with other clinical equipment, including a freezer for storing vaccines.
When they recently ran clinics, Sullivan said they had patients reluctant to receive the COVID-19 vaccines.
“At first we had a lot of people interested in the vaccines, but we see them wear off a bit,” Sullivan said. “We know there are many people who have concerns or questions.”
Sullivan said they spoke to representatives from the Missouri NAACP, Missouri Faith Voices, Mid-Missouri Black Nurses Association, and others to offer support as they work to get people beyond vaccine hesitation.
“We hear it every day in the office, and for those with these concerns, it’s important to speak to people in your life who you trust,” she said.
This could be a doctor, a pastor, a family member, or a friend.
Sullivan said there is a lot of information on the internet and it can be difficult to determine what is trustworthy.
The idea of a mobile unit was discussed several months after the pandemic started. However, the original proposal came when health center officials determined that the original mobile unit they requested would not be available by the end of the year, which would have excluded them from using federal COVID aid funds to purchase. They opted for another unit that could arrive in time for federal funding, and the County Commission approved the purchase.
“This will be available to the community for years to come,” Sullivan said. “We can’t just use it for testing and vaccination clinics. We could set up a mobile clinic to offer help to people with high blood pressure or diabetes.”
One of the uses Sullivan sees for the device is the annual Homeless Connect project. The meeting is designed to connect the homeless population of Jefferson City with shelter or shelter, counseling, food and clothing donations, ID cards, medical and health screening, and other services.
The Community Health Center serves Cole, Callaway, Moniteau, and Osage counties.
“If there is a need in mid-Missouri, we stand ready to take this unit wherever that need is,” said Sullivan.