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Mount Sinai South Nassau ensures vaccine accessibility

Ensuring vaccination opportunities for seniors, homebound residents, students and other at-risk populations is a key hurdle for community health and slowing the spread of COVID-19. In March 2021, Mount Sinai South Nassau, in partnership with the Town of Hempstead, launched the region’s first COVID-19 Vaccination Mobile Unit to provide accessible vaccinations to all community residents.

Dubbed the “Vaxmobile,” the bus was funded with federal CARES Act funds. The primary mission is to reduce transportation, language and technological barriers to vaccination and bring vaccines directly to hard-hit communities. Vaccinations are administered primarily outdoors in a seamless, drive-up setting. Immobile patients stay in their cars to receive the immunization. If space does not permit this arrangement, patients can park and walk to one of the vaccination stations or remain in their cars and a vaccinator will come to them.

Working directly with community leaders, the hospital schedules visits to convenient and trusted locations, including faith-based organizations, recreation centers, senior centers, parks and train stations. The handicap-accessible bus is staffed by a bilingual clinical team, including a nurse practitioner, licensed practicing or registered nurses, registrars and community health education professionals. The interior of the unit includes a private exam room, computerized clinical workstations, medical testing and lab technologies and secure storage areas. Translation services are offered at every stop. The program also delivers vaccines directly to the homebound.

During the past five months, the Vaxmobile has delivered close to 5,000 vaccines to residents in more than a dozen communities in Hempstead. More than 400 of those shots were delivered at senior centers. To date, the team has fully vaccinated over 70 homebound residents, ranging from 20 to 100 years old, and more than 700 students, ages 12 and older.

For more information, contact Dana Sanneman, vice president, public affairs, development and community education, at dana.sanneman@snch.org or 516.377.5365.