Meeting People Where They are to Provide COVID Vaccinations

UConn Health is deploying the FEMA Mobile Vaccination Unit in four towns throughout Eastern Connecticut for nine days beginning today in East Hartford.

In the ongoing effort to bring the vaccine to communities and people in socially vulnerable areas, Connecticut opened the country’s first FEMA Mobile Vaccination Unit (MVU) on March 29. UConn Health was chosen along with three other health systems to provide clinical oversight and staffing to support the MVU.  This initiative is in partnership with FEMA, Connecticut’s Governor’s Office, and the Department of Public Health.

UConn Health is deploying the MVU in four towns throughout Eastern Connecticut for nine days beginning today in East Hartford.  The MVU will later travel to the towns of Killingly, Windham/Willimantic, and Norwich as part of a large-scale vaccine campaign to bring the vaccine to under-served communities and reduce any barriers to receiving the vaccine.

Locations are based on the Center of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Community Resilience Estimates, low vaccine coverage, metrics, and other barriers to vaccine access.

“At UConn Health we are deeply committed to addressing health disparities and increasing access to health care.  In fact, as the state’s only public academic medical center, these are among our core values,” says Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, CEO of UConn Health. “We are proud to be part of this federal mobile vaccination unit initiative that will make a real difference in getting the vaccine to individuals and communities that have underserved populations.”

East Hartford officials including, State Representative Henry Genga, State Senator Saud, Mayor Marcia Leclerc, Town Council Member Awet Tsegai and Anne Horbatuck, UConn Health

On the first day of the vaccine unit, East Hartford officials including, Mayor Marcia Leclerc, State Senator Saud Anwar, State Representative Henry Genga, and Town Council Member Awet Tsegai came out to tour and see the vaccination unit in action.

“It’s a blessing with the assistance of FEMA and the State of Connecticut, UConn Health is coming to the people and setting up in the community to make it convenient for our residents to get vaccinated and defeat this terrible disease,” says Genga.

Throughout the day a steady stream of those with appointments and without came to get vaccinated.

East Hartford resident Yiovannie stated, “I was a hard ‘NO’ on getting the vaccine, even last night, this morning I saw a flyer in my apartment community about this site and realized how easy it would be.”  She felt something come over her and she and her four-year-old came down and were the first in line for the vaccine. “It went so smoothly and I am all set up for my second appointment. I’m so pleased I’m going to get my sister and bring her too.”

“The vaccine saves lives,” says Senator Anwar, who is also a doctor.  “We need to recognize that this virus multiplies and mutates.  Getting the vaccine is a benefit to society and the state, if you haven’t yet, please get vaccinated,” he urges.

UConn Health is engaging its students and other trainees to help with this mobile vaccination initiative.  Students and faculty members from the UConn Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, and in our Public Health Sciences department, as well as our medical and dental residents, are volunteering to support the FEMA Mobile Vaccine Unit.

The Pfizer vaccine will be given to all those aged 16 and up who have not been vaccinated yet. Those who are 16 and 17 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. An appointment for the second dose will be made on the day of your first vaccination. Eligible individuals are strongly encouraged to make an advance appointment by calling UConn Health’s dedicated Mobile Vaccination Unit Scheduling Line at 860-679-6547. The phone line is available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The mobile unit is prepared to vaccinate 400 people per day. Appointments are strongly encouraged but walk-ups are welcome.

UConn Health is partnering with East Hartford, Killingly, Willimantic, and Norwich for the following dates and locations:

April 28 and 29 – 936 Silver Lane, East Hartford (the former Showcase Cinemas)

April 30 and May 1 –Killingly Commons 581 Hartford Pike, Dayville, CT, 06421

May 2 -Elks Lodge #1311, 198 Pleasant Street, Willimantic, CT 06226

May 3 and 4 – Regional Fire School, 1 Fire School Road, Willimantic, CT 06226

May 5 and 6 – St Mary Church, 70 Central Ave, Norwich

Visit UConn Health for more information on easy, free access to get a vaccine.