Mobile Vaccine Squad Has A Mission: Find And Protect The Neediest

In Marin County, Linda Dobra and her team race the variants and bring shots to the people. Mobile Vaccine Squad Has A Mission: Find And Protect The Neediest

Linda Dobra ducked under the trellis and knocked on the door, holding a plastic bin with two syringes, alcohol wipes and adhesive bandages. The apartment at Rotary Valley Senior Village was unlocked and the television was blaring.

Dobra, who leads a mobile vaccination team in Marin County, California, peeked in to find Patricia Krantzler, 90. Enveloped in a pink corduroy La-Z-Boy, she was frail, slightly deaf and perfectly made up.

“Patricia?” the nurse said. “Hi! I’m Linda.”

“You’re the good fairy?” said Krantzler as Dobra readied a dose of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine, one of 165 million given across the country as the U.S. races to head off a fourth infection wave.

To reach the goal of protecting as much as 85% of the population, health-care workers such as Dobra must reach the homebound, the homeless and the hesitant. Health departments across the U.S. have deployed mobile units to eliminate challenges like waking up early to schedule appointments, navigating online portals and standing in line, all of which can deter the elderly, disabled or immune-compromised.

Marin launched two mobile units to cover its 830 square miles on Dec. 17. One includes nurses, emergency-medical technicians and state workers who visit long-term care facilities, low-income senior housing communities, sober living houses and shelters; another does home visits. The county also contracts with Curative Inc. to deploy a van that parks in hard-hit or underserved areas. The mobile operations are part of an effort that has delivered about 8,000 shots.

A day with Dobra’s team showed the planning, coordination and dedication necessary to find and vaccinate the hardest-to-reach Americans.

On a recent Thursday, the team had four homes for low-income seniors and the disabled on its agenda, starting with San Rafael Commons, a modern complex of rehabbed garden apartments owned by a nonprofit. At 8:30 a.m., they started transforming the complex’s recreation room. Two nurses set up folding-table stations.

Residence staff readied a list of people who had signed up, and a stack of their consent forms. Two EMTs stood by in case anyone fell ill. Their ambulance was parked outside.

Dobra, 58, was the hurricane’s eye, quashing concerns about J&J’s efficacy, opening windows for maximum ventilation — even picking up stray leaves tracked in from outside. She has served as a nurse for the county more than 20 years, focusing on communicable diseases like HIV, hepatitis C and, now, Covid.

“Pandemics, and responses to pandemics, and solutions to pandemics — it’s familiar to me,” she said. Covid is “just HIV at hyper-speed.”

At 9 a.m., she handed two nurses five doses each. “Ready to go?” she said, pulling her long gray-streaked hair into a low bun.

The people lined up outside started shuffling in. First came a handful of caretakers and staff. Next, residents descended from their apartments, some leaning on walkers.

After getting her shot, Ommie Townsend struggled to get up. “My knee!” she moaned. Dobra swooped in, placing a coat around her shoulders and walking her to a folding chair for 15 minutes of observation. “I couldn’t wait for this day to happen,” said Townsend, 49. “I was afraid that if I didn’t get this, I might not make it.”

Actually getting vaccines into arms is easy, said Dobra: “It’s all the logistics that go into planning and consenting and observing and set-up that takes time.”

Organizing started months ago, when a county team took all the residential and shared living facilities and prioritized them by considering measures like population, residents’ age and poverty rates as well as racial breakdown of each census tract. Now the health department is working through the list to schedule visits.

“For testing and vaccines, you have to make it as low barrier and as accessible as possible,” said Jon Jacobo, the Health Committee chair of San Francisco’s Latino Task Force, which does Covid outreach. “Follow the data and test or vaccinate where it leads. It’s that simple.”

Yet California’s vaccination rate is in the lower half of all U.S. states, and as of Sunday had vaccinated about 26% of its residents. And it has yawning gaps in vaccination rates between its poorest and richest communities.

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, Marin County falls into the latter category, with a population of 258,000 and a median household income of $115,000. But within its rolling hills are pockets of poverty, and it’s one of the country’s most economically unequal places.

Covid there has split along familiar lines: Hispanic people were disproportionately represented in cases and hospitalizations, and nursing homes and senior residential homes accounted for three-quarters of deaths.

Marin, birthplace of the U.S. environmental movement, has long held a reputation for being anti-vaccination, earned by affluent, liberal parents resistant to inoculating their children. But its Covid inoculation rates are strong: Marin ranks third out of California’s 58 counties, with almost 59% of its over-16 population and 81% of its over-65 population at least one dose in. As is the case nationally, Hispanic residents of each age group have among the lowest vaccination rates.

“A good portion of our public is very savvy with the Internet. We’re not worried about them,” said Laine Hendricks, a county spokeswoman. “We’re worried about those people that don’t have access to internet, can’t get out of their homes, or there’s a language barrier, or there’s some fear about going to a government-run site. That’s where these mobile units are going to come in to be pivotal.”

Hesitancy persists, however: Only about half the 30 San Rafael Commons residents who signed up appeared for their appointments.

By 11 a.m., Dobra’s team had set up in the common area of the 80-apartment Rotary Valley Senior Village, with its pale-yellow homes shaded by trees. Within an hour, it vaccinated Krantzler, another homebound resident too fearful to interact with a crowd and about a dozen others.

Without stopping for lunch, they whizzed through four shots at two senior residences called Nova-Ro I and II in Novato. Even after their 15-minute observation period was over, residents lingered and chatted; it was the first time some had socialized indoors in a year.

As the clock ran down, Dobra realized they’d pulled too many doses. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine can survive only two hours out of its vial, and the four extra syringes set off a frantic search for extra arms. One man was brought over from another facility.

An EMT remembered a recent home visit to an elderly man who had been too unwell to get the vaccine; they called him to see whether they could swing by with the ambulance that afternoon. No luck. Dobra called a mass vaccination site in San Rafael, and the team planned to caravan there to pull people out of line.

The team tallied forms and repacked refrigerators. For the 80 patients in their wake, their shoulders a little tender, the day had been a success.

Mark Powell, a 62-year-old San Rafael Commons resident, hadn’t wanted the vaccine at first. A stroke made walking challenging, and he didn’t drive. But he was glad he changed his mind:

“It’s so nice for all of these people to come to my door.”

Mobile Vaccine Squad Has,Mobile Vaccine Squad Has,Mobile Vaccine Squad Has,Mobile Vaccine Squad Has,Mobile Vaccine Squad Has,Mobile Vaccine Squad Has,

Related Articles:


Carolyn’s Natural Organic Handmade Soap

Essential Oils User’s Guide

We Now Live In A World With Customized Bar Soaps, Lotions And Shampoos

Why Interior Designers And Home Stagers Prefer Bar Soap Over Liquid

Parabens: A Cancer-Causing And DNA-Damaging Preservative Used In The Food And Cosmetic Industries

Carolyn’s Organic Handmade Soap vs Toxic Lipsticks, Bar Soaps And Lotions (Facebook Group)

Our Facebook Page

Your Questions And Comments Are Greatly Appreciated.


Carolyn A.

Testimonials

Lara Smith

I really like this soap. Great price a a nice mild scent. I do not care for overly scented products and this was fine.
This would make a great gift!

Lara Smith

I really like this soap. Great price a a nice mild scent. I do not care for overly scented products and this was fine.
This would make a great gift!

Tina A.

Customer

Great price a a nice mild scent. I do not care for overly scented products and this was fine.
This would make a great gift! I really like this soap.

Tina A.

Customer

Great price a a nice mild scent. I do not care for overly scented products and this was fine.
This would make a great gift! I really like this soap.