Health, News

Lynn Community Health Center ending mobile vaccines

The Lynn Community Health Center has decided to suspend its mobile vaccination efforts in favor of focusing of focusing its vaccine distribution efforts through its primary care providers. (Spenser Hasak)

LYNN ― The city’s mobile vaccination program will end on Thursday, Nov. 4, but medical professionals are still urging residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at brick-and-mortar locations.

Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC) decided to shift its vaccination efforts and formally end its mobile vaccination program on Nov. 4.

“We are just restructuring our resources for vaccination efforts,” said Rosie Conway, program manager for mobile operations for COVID response at the LCHC. “We felt most comfortable to conclude the service because access [to vaccines] has increased tremendously throughout, not only within the city of Lynn, but within the state and the country.”

Conway said that Lynn residents can now get vaccinated through local pharmacies, public-school based health centers (for youth vaccinations), and primary care providers.

“At this time, the center would like to refocus its efforts on standardizing vaccination through its primary-care department,” Conway added.

Community members will still be able to get vaccinated at LCHC’s physical locations on Union Street and in Market Square.

The mobile program was launched in April 2020 and was focused on COVID-19 testing for the first eight months, until vaccines were developed and approved. Mobile testing unit included one clinical person and one operations person on quieter days and four to six people on busy days, Conway said. The vaccination unit started working in December 2020 and had 14 health workers who were performing community outreach and 10 staff members who were performing vaccinations. The program utilized one vehicle.

The mobile team has attended more than 200 events in the community since January 2021 and provided more than 2800 vaccines with one more week to go, Conway said. Multilingual, multicultural, and multidisciplinary community-engagement teams spent more than 1000 hours educating, encouraging, and supporting community members in making their COVID-19 vaccine decision, while also conducting door-to-door canvassing and tabling at businesses and events.

“With our mobile testing and our mobile-vaccination efforts, we were really focusing on eliminating barriers to access to care,” Conway said, listing lack of transportation, insurance, photo IDs, child care, access to phone or internet, immigration status, and/or language barriers as the most common obstacles that prevented people from vaccination at the health center.

The mobile program’s staff spoke more than eight different languages, Conway said.

To reach more vulnerable community members, the mobile team partnered with trusted resources within the neighborhoods where they would be more likely to engage. LCHC held meet-and-greets, educational series, and Q&A sessions and performed testing and vaccination themselves.

The program worked with more than 80 community partners in Lynn, Swampscott, and Nahant, including places of worship, early-education centers, congregate housing locations, senior housing locations, LEO Inc., Aspire Developmental Services, Inc., Lynn Public Schools and others. In spring and summer 2021, LCHC worked with food and hospitality businesses, including a number of neighboring restaurants in the Union Street area.

“We were open to partnering with anyone that wanted to bring the services to a more comfortable and safe location for the patients,” said Conway.

These efforts were financed through LCHC, with support from the City of Lynn and Mass General Brigham Salem, as well as COVID-19-related grants.

LCHC performed almost 80,000 COVID tests in total, including about 10,000 through mobile operations. Conway said that some mobile testing will continue so long as there is demand.

LCHC staff urges all community members to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the whole community strives towards a safe and healthy future.

Alena Kuzub can be reached at alena@itemlive.com.

 

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