Univ. of Iowa Mobile Clinic working hard to get COVID-19 vaccines to underserved communities

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 5:01 AM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Since the pandemic, the University of Iowa Mobile Clinic is partnering with Johnson County Public Health and setting up across Iowa City, West Liberty, and Columbus Junction to get COVID-19 vaccines to underserved populations.

Clinic Operations Executive Andrea Arthofer said near the beginning of the pandemic, the mobile clinic switched to telemedicine services. Now, they’re back in person, and Arthofer said this year they’re much busier than normal with the work of distributing COVID-19 vaccines.

Last year, University of Iowa Pharmacy student Chi Nesah was focused on her role as a Vaccine Clinic Coordinator helping with flu shots, one of the clinic’s services.

“I used to make sure the flu vaccines were kept in a temperature-controlled range, I’d run errands and pick up the flu vaccines and stuff like that,” Nesah said.

Now, she and University of Iowa Biology major Hanxi Tang are busy getting COVID-19 vaccines to underserved populations. The clinic visits approximately 12 sites across Eastern Iowa.

“There are so many people around here that cannot get transportation to a family care doctor, they don’t have health insurance, so the use of our clinic, the mobile clinic brings the services to them,” Nesah said.

The mobile clinic typically sees more than one thousand patients every year, and it’s on track to double that number this year.

“One of the locations we serve is a Hispanic community, and some of their community members would not go to, say UIHC, to get their vaccines. So we hope bringing the vaccines to them will help them to stay safe,” Tang said.

Arthofer said they’re hoping to make getting the vaccine as easy as possible, setting up at places like CommUnity’s Food Bank on the southeast side of Iowa City.

“They’re already coming to get their groceries, so they can just get the vaccine while they’re there. Similarly we’ve offered them in churches, or in neighborhoods, so people can just come over from their house or after their worship service,” Arthofer said.

And Nesah and Tang said they’re glad to help serve their community.

“Serving all the people who are a little different than me and serving all the communities I wouldn’t normally be in contact with is something that I really enjoy,” Tang said.

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