MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - The Walz-Flanagan Administration announced the launch of mobile vaccination units this week to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to communities throughout the state of Minnesota.
According to state officials, the mobile units are a key tool to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, prioritize vulnerable and underserved communities, and reduce barriers to vaccinations.
The mobile vaccination units are a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Health, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Metro Transit, the Metropolitan Council, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
According to a recent statement by the Walz administration, the focused communities for the mobile units include people of color; urban Native Americans; LGBTQI+; people with disabilities and unique health needs; people experiencing homelessness; people more comfortable getting vaccinated in a trusted community space versus a clinic or similar; and people without access to vehicles.
Other target populations may include large employers such as factories, food processing, and employers of seasonal and migrant workers.
"Equity is a core value of Minnesota's COVID-19 vaccination strategy, and every single Minnesotan deserves safe and equitable access to the vaccine," said Gov. Tim Walz.
MDH data has shown that Minnesotans who live in an area with a high Social Vulnerability Index score have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and COVID-19 vaccinations are limited in many of these areas.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, said the mobile units make it possible to vaccinate vulnerable populations in their own trusted locations.
"The mobile vaccination units are another example of the targeted strategies we're using to better serve communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including Black, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and Native communities," said Flanagan.
According to state officials, Two mobile vaccination units are set to begin this week and will scale up to six buses by the summer. The buses will operate Monday through Thursday throughout the summer, and each bus will be able to vaccinate up to 150 people per day.
The Walz administration says locations for the mobile units were identified through state demographic data, vaccination data, and testing data; as well as input from trusted community partners, local public health, and MDH equity leadership.
Community partners can request a mobile vaccine unit through a form on the MDH website. Though officials say a request does not guarantee a visit from a mobile unit.
The statement released says Metro Transit helped transformed the six buses into the vaccination units by removing seating and installing medical equipment. Each bus meets ADA requirements for transit vehicles and more than 700 volunteers from Blue Cross are said to staff the buses and provide on-site support.
MDH says to promote good health and safety for all involved, all Blue Cross volunteers will be fully vaccinated prior to participating in the events.
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