Mobile vaccine clinic meets patients at home during pandemic

Hennepin Healthcare has a mobile pediatric vaccine clinic to increase access to vaccines amid the pandemic.

Hennepin Healthcare is hitting the road to make vaccination appointments easy and accessible amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“First and foremost, we want them in clinic,” said pediatrician Dr. Dawn Martin. “But if they’re unable or unwilling to come in--or there’s a barrier--we don’t want to delay those essential vaccines.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic spread in Minnesota, immunization rates have plummeted. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the number of total vaccines administered in April of this year was down 28 percent from the same time last year. While the situation improved in May, it was still down by double digits. Figures were not available for June or July.

“I was a little leery,” said Diana Jones, a mother of four from Minneapolis. “What if we have it? I don’t want to expose anyone else either. Right now, with us not knowing what’s going on, it’s really creepy.”

On Thursday, Hennepin Healthcare’s pediatric vaccine mobile pulled up in front of Jones' apartment and vaccinated her 12-year-old son.

“The last thing we need right now is an outbreak of measles or whooping cough,” said Martin.

Martin was instrumental in starting the mobile unit through a partnership with Hennepin EMS. By the first week in May, they were up and running. Since then, they’ve treated around 100 children.

“We meet families where they are, which is a new way of thinking about the way we provide care,” said Sheyanga Beecher, a nurse practitioner at Hennepin Healthcare.

“We want to be prepared for fall and when cold and flu season starts,” said Beecher. “We’re not fighting two worst case scenarios. We’re not fighting COVID and we’re not fighting these preventable diseases.”