Public-private partnership brings vaccines into Lowell’s neighborhoods

Sharyn McCarthy had tried for weeks to sign up for the coronavirus vaccine, getting frustrated at every attempt.

“I’m registered on Walgreens, CVS, I’ve been looking at all the sites that they have in Lowell, and every week it’s the same thing, everything is booked,” she said.

McCarthy, who is on oxygen, said she knows her chances of survival are not good if she catches the virus. So when her sister, who lives in the Highlands, was able to sign her up for Lowell’s mobile vaccination clinic on Monday, she said it was a bit of a relief.

The mobile clinic, which was stationed at 101 West Forest St. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, was the second such clinic the city has held. The first was April 12 at the Robinson School in Centralville.

The mobile clinics are operated under the direction of the city Health Department by A Yankee Line Inc. and Purple Shield Medical, which are partnering to run mobile vaccination units around the state under a contract with the state Department of Public Health.

“We’re just trying to get the vaccines out to as many people as we can, and not everybody wants to go to the large mass vaccination sites. Some people don’t have the means to get there,” said Christian Mills, mobile vaccine director for Yankee Line. “So we try to set these up in the communities. The different cities or towns develop that plan and see the need, then they reach out to us and we can bring in our buses to get to those little hotspots that need vaccine.”

Purple Shield nurses administered about 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine at each of the Lowell clinics so far, a pace Mills said he hopes will continue each Monday for the foreseeable future. He said Yankee Line is also running mobile clinics on Saturdays in Worcester and has more communities “on deck.”

The city began offering the mobile clinics as part of its efforts to ensure timely and equitable distribution of the vaccine to residents, according to City Manager Eileen Donoghue.

“The addition of mobile clinics will significantly enhance access to COVID-19 vaccinations in the city and will provide us with a valuable tool to reach residents who may have difficulty traveling to sites outside of their immediate neighborhood,” she said.

Most attendees of Monday’s clinic went onto the bright yellow Yankee Line bus to receive their vaccinations, but some residents with mobility issues, like Sandra Haley, were vaccinated right in their vehicles at the site.

“This is fantastic, especially for us handicapped, older people,” Haley said.

She said she’s not very good with the computer, so her home health aide helped to sign her up. Prior to that, Haley said she had called 211 and was put on a waiting list.With the mobile clinic, Haley said she was able get vaccinated about a two-minute drive from her home. On 211, she said she was told the closest location she’d be able to go to was Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

“I mean, I don’t mind the drive, but it’s ridiculous,” Haley said.

Saravuth Prak, who was also vaccinated Monday, remarked how convenient the site was. At other sites, he said he’d had trouble finding appointments at times that he could make it.“I like it because it is easy for me,” Prak said.

Dan Cornellier said he learned about the mobile clinic from his mother, and decided to get vaccinated because it “seemed like the right thing to do.”

He said the clinic was only five minutes from his home, and he believes everyone should be able to have that kind of close access to the vaccine.“I feel way luckier than people that have to drive to Ipswich or Danvers or the Cape or something like that,” Cornellier said.


Source: Lowellsun