Vaccinating Our Community: OBCC on the Move

Q&A with Shaquita Bell, MD, FAAP
Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic

When did you start doing mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics and what motivated you? We started doing mobile vaccine clinics last spring.  We have partnered with several community groups like Living Well Kent.  This allowed us to meet our community in their neighborhoods with people who were familiar to them.  With LWK, they provided the space, volunteer interpreters and gave away supplies for peoples’ homes (food, fans, gift cards) and we brought the shots, the medical people, etc. This was an awesome partnership.

How many have you done/how many people have been vaccinated at one of these events?  I have lost count of how many we have done, but we have vaccinated a total of over 3000 people as a clinic. Most mobile clinic events are small (20-30 people).  We are also having dedicated vaccine clinics on Saturdays, and on those days we can do 250-300 people. 

What do you have planned for the future? We took a pause for September and October on the large in-clinic events but are restarting on November 6th.  We ran a search in Epic for how many kids are between 5-11 in our practice [and found out] there are 5000 patients. That helped us figure out how many vaccine and vaccine events we need as a minimum.  We have 6 school-based health sites, so we started offering vaccines there at the start of school this year. And then we have partnered with schools, school districts, churches, mosques, community organizations, and health boards.

How has your patient/family community reacted?  Our community has loved it.  We won an award from the Department of Health for reaching so many BIPOC community members.  In the 3000+ shots that we did 80% were BIPOC/immigrant/refugee and/or with a preferred language other than English.

What were some hurdles? At first it is a big lift.  It is helpful to have someone who is organized to get all the pieces together, from the supplies you need for a vaccine, to building a template in Epic, it takes some coordination. Also freezers and mobile coolers are on back order, so planning ahead helped a lot

What were some (expected or unexpected) benefits? This has led to much more meaningful and integrated relationships with our community and community groups.  In the beginning when the vaccine was for older adults only, it allowed us to connect with a whole different generation of our community.  Folks actually got to see providers that looked like them and visit with others in their community in safe places.  The feedback was overwhelmingly positive

The greatest benefit was feeling like we were doing something real and tangible to combat this pandemic and to serve our community.  We know that COVID is disproportionately impacting certain communities and being able to do more to address it felt really good.  For the staff who have participated it has added to our mental health and combated our feelings of burnout

Shaquita Bell, MD, FAAP

Any advice for other clinics who might want to do something similar? I met with the local National Guard rep to understand how to organize the work, we had work sheets and timelines.  We cross-trained as many people as we could for every single role, so that we would not have bottle necks/pinch points.  There are excellent training and support tools at the CDC.gov page.

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