When the Bookmobile is also a Vaccination Site
The past year has been filled with endless ups and downs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
People all over the world have powered through cycles of quarantines and lockdowns with news of vaccines being a major source of hope for many.
As expected, logistics for vaccine distribution and equal access to healthcare are a lot to facilitate. This is one of those tasks that truly takes a village.
The Sussex County Public Library has stepped up to serve members of southern Delaware by providing life-saving vaccines through mobile clinics.
These efforts are hugely important because they help reach those in the community who may struggle to access healthcare. Through these innovative efforts, the library has demonstrated once again that it is there to help people.
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Vaccine development started soon after the pandemic took a place on the global stage. Many pharmaceutical companies raced to research components that would go into the vaccine and countries all around the world came together in a joint effort to fund this research. Trials were underway by the fall and the first vaccines were emergency authorized before the end of 2020.
Eligibility for vaccinations were released by phases with healthcare workers and vulnerable populations prioritized first. While average Americans weren’t expecting to get their shots until later in the year, this all changed rapidly and vaccination eligibility was opened up to most people by the spring with plans to continue studies in adolescents for future approval. In addition, healthcare professionals are also evaluating the potential need for booster shots as new and more transmissible variants come into play.
One of the key problems that people noticed with the pandemic and vaccine distribution is the disparities in who was being affected. It was shown that minority groups were the ones most affected with those populations having a higher COVID-19 mortality rate and lower vaccination rates. This is mainly due to access to healthcare as well as mistrust of the vaccine due to previous instances in history.
It is no secret that many of the communities that need libraries the most are also made up of minorities. This is why libraries play a crucial role in helping to close the gap and getting the same protections and information to their communities. Setting up vaccine sites at libraries can make it easier for people to access equal care because the library is a central location known for helping and serving those in need.
Repurposing the Bookmobile
The Delaware Library System took vaccine rollout to another level. The idea came from a conversation between the Population Health community services manager and the Sussex County Emergency Medical Services Director who wanted to find a way to reach those with limited access to the vaccine. They realized the bookmobile had been sitting idle for months since the pandemic started and this was an opportunity to get it up and running to serve the community once more.
The bookmobile was once used to bring library services to those in the community that had difficulty going to the library in person. The community was able to approve of its use as a COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinic and begin setting up clinic locations all across the county. After just a month after being repurposed, the mobile vaccination site was able to facilitate the administration of over 400 Pfizer vaccines to people in the community.
It takes multiple branches of the community collaborating together to ensure the success of the bookmobile. Library staff plays a role in setting up and transporting the bus to sites while those who are vaccine certified like county paramedics are in charge of giving out shots and monitoring patients. The best part of this, like with all COVID-19 vaccines, is that it comes at no cost to the patient which means anyone who wants a vaccine and is eligible for one is able to get it.
The teamwork that is involved in providing the vaccines to the population has not only been innovative but also well-organized. Mobile vaccine sites are set up in targeted areas of the community and when residents come in for their first shot, they are also scheduled for their second one at second-dose clinics. The county also implemented a few walk-in clinics to catch all those in between. These efforts not only make sure residents are getting access to healthcare but are also getting access to the full treatment.
New Ways to Tackle the Future
This partnership between various agencies within Sussex County as well as Beebe Healthcare has shown that it is possible to reinvent new processes to address persistent problems. The bookmobile takes others into account and recognizes that traditional methods for distributing vaccines is not what works for all. This gives many people in the community a much-needed way to safely and effectively access vaccines.