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Salt Lake County unveils two mobile health centers for COVID-19 vaccine

(Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson standing in front of the county's two new mobile health centers. Credit: Paul Nelson, January 27, 2021)

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah – Over 90 thousand people in Salt Lake County have received their COVID-19 vaccine, but health officials are worried some elderly and low-income residents might fall through the cracks. Salt Lake County unveiled two new mobile health centers to reach people who wouldn’t be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

County Mayor Jenny Wilson said the most important thing they can focus on is getting vaccines into arms. She believes the virus has disproportionally affected the elderly and communities of color and she acknowledged there are underserved areas of the county.

Wilson said, “We’re well aware that there are harder hit areas and communities.”

Many of these underserved residents don’t have the means to travel to a drive-through vaccine center or a clinic to get their doses when they want to. So, two new mobile health centers will go all over the county to find those who can’t book their vaccination appointments on their own.

Wilson reported county agencies will have to find those in need.

“We have created systems over the years that support the public, Aging Services being one of them and ours diversity and inclusion efforts being another,” Wilson said.

(SLCO Health Department Executive Director Gary Edwards, at podium. Human Services Director Karen Crompton, background, and County Mayor Jenny Wilson, left.) Credit: Paul Nelson)

County Human Services Director Karen Crompton said they’ve been able to find and vaccinate roughly 1,000 seniors through the Meals on Wheels program.

“Many people face barriers when trying to access public health services.  These two new mobile health centers will help us remove some of those barriers,” Crompton said.

Health officials are not certain how many people they will be able to connect with per day through these vehicles.  However, they’re not meant to be used to significantly increase vaccination rates. Registered nurse Lee Cherie Booth said if the centers need to be converted to handle a mass vaccination event, they can be.

“We can get the tables out and set up a vaccine area.  We could use it as a drive-up [center] but we could also use it as a walk-in,” she said.

Currently, every vaccination appointment through the end of February is filled, but the federal government has told the state to prepare for a 16% increase in their weekly doses.