This story is featured in MHA's community benefit report.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Hennepin Healthcare recognized that families were understandably fearful of coming into clinics for preventative health care services such as immunizations. As childhood immunization rates began to fall nationally and in Minnesota, something had to be done to address the looming risk of more vaccine-preventable diseases if children miss their vaccinations.
Hennepin Healthcare pediatric providers and community paramedics collaborated to launch Vaccine Mobile to deliver vaccines to children where they live. The team originally saw toddlers, kindergartners and adolescents who were behind or due for their vaccines, but whose families were otherwise reluctant or unable to be seen in clinic. Equipped with the ability to provide all childhood vaccines while taking necessary safety precautions against COVID-19, the team also arrived at each home with cloth masks, books to promote literacy and food bags for families in need. Shortly after starting, the program was expanded to include flu shots for the rest of the family.
In 2020, the Vaccine Mobile team provided approximately 600 childhood immunizations and flu shots in homes and targeted sites including PICA/Head Start and alternative schools, and more than 1,000 influenza vaccinations at community-based pop-up events at the site of a closed clinic on East Lake Street, a voter engagement community event and public housing facilities.
Program support came from multiple sources, including Hennepin Healthcare, the Minnesota Department of Health, Influenza Vaccine Projects, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Minnesota Academy of Pediatrics Foundation – Medica Foundation.