Mass General Brigham has launched a mobile vaccination initiative to bring vaccines to communities deeply impacted by COVID-19.
Mass General Brigham will use its community health vans — which are also used for COVID-19 testing and community outreach—to reach communities with lower vaccination rates. These mobile pop-ups will help mitigate barriers to getting vaccinated like limited access to medical providers or vaccine clinics, securing transportation, mobility issues, and work and family care schedules.
“As vaccine rates start to slow, we’re seeing pockets of people who have either had a hard time accessing the vaccine, or are still not confident that they want to be vaccinated,” says Tom Sequist, MD, MPH. Sequist is the Chief Patient Experience and Equity Officer at Mass General Brigham. “It’s more critical than ever to not lose momentum in getting vulnerable populations vaccinated. We have to meet people where they are—whether that’s increasing access to the vaccine or understanding why someone may have questions or concerns in a compassionate and culturally competent way.”
To help combat vaccine hesitation, the mobile vaccine clinics will be leveraging our community messengers. These volunteer clinicians have been engaging local community members to help answer people’s questions and boost confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines. The Mass General Brigham community messengers are multi-lingual and multi-cultural, with many having shared life experience with the people in the communities we serve. The hope is that community members with questions or concerns about the vaccine will have access to on-site experts. And if they choose to get vaccinated, they won’t have to wait to schedule an appointment.
“Bringing vaccines directly into communities through this data driven, community facing mobile initiative enables us to increase access by bringing vaccines to where people are, in their communities, in their homes- this is especially important for those that are at the highest risk for adverse outcomes,” says Priya Sarin Gupta, MD, MPH, Medical Director for the Mass General Brigham and Kraft Center Community Care Van initiatives. “The COVID vaccines are a simple, safe and effective way of protecting everyone from this harmful disease, and one thing we have certainly learned from this public health pandemic, is that we are all connected.”
The three vaccination vans will be stationed in communities hardest hit by COVID such as Chelsea, Revere, Everett, Charlestown, Lynn, Roxbury, Mattapan, Dorchester, and other communities as needed. The schedule, which includes other mobile resources such as testing, will be updated weekly and is available in English and Spanish. No pre-scheduled appointments are needed and walk-ins are welcomed. The hope is that these pop-up vaccination clinics will help reach people who have had a hard time accessing the vaccine—ultimately protecting some of our most vulnerable patients and their families in our local communities.
“We learned early in the pandemic that existing barriers to health care were exacerbated by COVID-19. We also realized how critical it was to collaborate with trusted partners in the community,” says Christin Price, MD, Operations Lead for community COVID testing and vaccinations at Brookside Community Health Center, a Mass General Brigham health care center for patients in Jamaica Plain and the surrounding Boston communities. Dr. Price was also integral in the Mass General Brigham collaboration with Upham’s Corner Health Center to stand up a COVID-19 pop-up center at the Strand Theatre—where patients can access vaccinations, screenings for social needs, and other resources. “We are now set to take these efforts mobile and attempt to eliminate any barriers to vaccine access in response to local residents’ and community organizations’ requests.”
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Mass General Brigham is an integrated academic health care system, uniting great minds to solve the hardest problems in medicine for our communities and the world. Mass General Brigham connects a full continuum of care across a system of academic medical centers, community and specialty hospitals, a health insurance plan, physician networks, community health centers, home care, and long-term care services. Mass General Brigham is a nonprofit organization committed to patient care, research, teaching, and service to the community. In addition, Mass General Brigham is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations with several Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals. For more information, please visit massgeneralbrigham.org.