BOISE, Idaho — St. Luke's is using a mobile vaccine unit (MVU) to reach people in rural, remote and underserved communities in Idaho. A news release from St. Luke's says the MVU aims to provide more convenient immunizations for people who have struggled to make appointments, don't have access to a nearby clinic or pharmacy, or don't have transportation.
The goal is to reach areas hit hardest by the coronavirus, areas where vulnerable populations live and work and communities where vaccine access has been more limited. St. Luke's says these groups include senior housing services, homeless shelters and housing facilities, faith-based organizations, communities of color, indigenous communities and people with disabilities.
The MVU is set up to provide hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines a day with no appointment needed. The unit will travel at the request of community groups and companies that would like to host a vaccination event, according to the release.
The first official stop for the MVU is May 4 at the Office of the Mexican Consulate in Boise. Vaccines will be provided on a walk-in basis at no cost from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
St. Luke's says it will also take vaccinations to large workplaces like factories and food processing plants. The MVU will be at Chobani in Twin Falls on May 7. The mobile unit schedule and updates can be found on the St. Luke's vaccine website page.
“Idaho is a rural state and many of our communities are isolated. People there haven’t had the same access to the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s why we’re taking the vaccine to them,” explained Scott Milner, St. Luke’s senior director of pharmacy. “We see this new mobile unit as another layer to our vaccination strategy and a way to improve convenience and address some of the racial, economic and health inequities we’ve seen worsen due to COVID-19.”
St. Luke's plans to use both one-dose and two-dose vaccine brands for the mobile visits, meaning the vaccines will be available to everyone 16 and older and are safe for pregnant people. Vaccines will be given on a walk-in, first-come-first-served basis. The vaccine will still be offered by appointment at St. Luke's clinics in southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon.
How to request the MVU
The St. Luke's Mobile Vaccine Unit can be requested by churches, community groups, workplaces and other organizations. The organization needs to provide a parking space for the RV, people who would like to get vaccinated and help with scheduling.
The service is free to both the organization hosting the event, as well as people who are getting vaccinated. St. Luke's will also provide interpretation services at no cost.
Accommodations will be made for those who are not able to access the unit. People with limited mobility should stay in their vehicle and call 208-513-3413 when they arrive and staff will come to the vehicle. Directions will be provided on-site.
“St. Luke’s sees this mobile team as yet another way we’re working to remove the barriers to health care access,” Milner said. “We encourage community partners to support this effort and help us vaccinate their employees, customers, clients, neighbors, friends and family members by just reaching out and working with us.”
St. Luke's will do its best to accommodate an organization's preferred dates and times. If you wish to schedule an event with the MVU, click here.