July 2, 2022

Mobile Vaccination Units Hit Tiny US Towns to Boost COVID Immunity | Voice of America

FALLON, Nev. — Pick-up truck drivers motor up to a white trailer in a parking lot on Fallon Paiute-Shoshone land in Nevada’s high desert and within a few moments, they’re handed forms to sign, jabbed with coronavirus vaccine and sent on their way. 

The pop-up clinic, 96 kilometers east of Reno, is one of 28 locations in the Western state where the Federal Emergency Management Agency has dispatched mobile vaccination units to ensure people in far-flung rural areas and one-stoplight towns can get inoculated.  

It’s one of the tactics health officials are using across the country to counter waning interest in vaccinations. In churches, ballparks, strip clubs and even marijuana dispensaries in tiny towns, officials are setting up shop and offering incentives to entice people as the nation struggles to reach herd immunity. 

In Nevada, health officials acknowledge they’re unlikely to hit their initial goal of vaccinating 75% of the population believed necessary to reach herd immunity. 

People pass by a temporary vaccination clinic the Washoe County Health District organized with help from the Nevada National…
People pass by a temporary vaccination clinic the Washoe County Health District organized with the Nevada National Guard offering COVID-19 shots at the home season opener for the Reno Aces Triple-A minor league baseball team in Reno, May 13, 2021.

Their push in northern Nevada is headquartered at the Reno Livestock Events Center, where 65-year-old Dan Lavely and others are showing up for shots. 

Lavely said he teared up while thanking the nurses who vaccinated him. 

“I told them I was just so thankful that they were volunteering their time to help get us back to normal so I can go shop at the mall or go to the beach at Lake Tahoe,” said Lavely, who works at a big box store in neighboring Sparks. Waiting to get vaccinated had nothing to do with safety concerns or distrust of the government, he said. 

“It was a scheduling deal. Plus, my middle name is procrastinator,” Lavely said. 

No turnout too small

Two FEMA mobile trailers have meandered through Nevada to towns without pharmacies, clinics or other vaccination sites, giving doctors, nurses and National Guardsmen a firsthand look at rural and tribal communities where finding vaccinations has been difficult for residents. 

“That’s our philosophy: It doesn’t make any difference if there are two (people) nor 200,” said Peggy Franklin, a volunteer nurse who has traveled alongside a FEMA trailer to Fallon, Alamo, Panaca and other towns in Nevada. 

To preserve the vaccine, the trailers are equipped with ultra-cold refrigerators powered by generators-on-wheels. On Monday, the two mobile clinics completed six-week loops through Nevada that included returning to finish two-shot regimens in the state that covers an area that would stretch from Boston to Baltimore and Buffalo, New York. 

Initially, the goal was to vaccinate 250 people a day at each stop. But the numbers have varied, as vaccine supply has increased, and demand has fallen. 

Peggy Franklin, a volunteer nurse from Reno, administers vaccines at a mobile vaccination clinic held at a tribal health center…
FILE – Peggy Franklin, a volunteer nurse from Reno, administers vaccines at a mobile vaccination clinic held at a tribal health center on the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Reservation and Colony on May 18, 2021 in Fallon, Nev.

“Just a month ago, people were still having a hard time finding vaccination sites. That’s really changed in the last three or four weeks. And now, we’re trying to find people that are more vaccine-hesitant,” said Marc Reynolds, a doctor from Fallon who has volunteered at the mobile clinic in his hometown and the state prison in Lovelock. 

Other states using mobile clinics

The clinics have delivered 7,600 shots during two tours of Nevada and have also been used in Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky and other states. Nevada Division of Emergency Management Chief Dave Fogerson said people in the remote communities of the state “probably would not have got it any other way.” 

Gerlach, for example, is 160 kilometers from the closest pharmacy in Reno-Sparks. With just 34 people, it was once home to a booming gypsum mine on the edge of the desert that hosts 80,000 visitors each year for the Burning Man Festival. The desolate landscape was featured in this year’s Academy Award-winning movie, Nomadland

Nearly half of Nevada’s eligible population has had at least an initial vaccination against COVID-19. But rates have varied geographically. 

In Clark and Washoe counties, home to Las Vegas and Reno, respectively, about half of those eligible have gotten at least one dose, the state reported. The rate has been about half of that in Eureka and Elko counties, while Storey County has seen just a 15% rate. 

As infection rates drop and the state moves further away from the height of the pandemic, officials acknowledge persuading the vaccine-hesitant to get shots won’t get easier. As a result, on the heels of the FEMA effort, officials have been preparing similar pop-up events in urban centers, suburban neighborhoods and unconventional venues ranging from a Las Vegas strip club to a Sparks truck stop along an interstate that runs to Utah. 

Jeff Cantrell waits at Larry Flint's Hustler Club strip club after getting his second dose of coronavirus vaccine Friday, May…
FILE – Jeff Cantrell waits at Larry Flint’s Hustler Club strip club after getting his second dose of coronavirus vaccine, May 21, 2021, in Las Vegas. Las Vegas officials held a pop-up vaccine clinic at the strip club.

“It’s important that the people running the vaccination events look like the community,” said Jeanne Freeman of Carson City Health and Human Services. “Comfort levels are important. Sometimes, just being in a familiar location.” 

Nevada has long struggled with some of the nation’s worst vaccination rates. It improved to fifth-worst last year with 42% of adults vaccinated against the flu, according to the CDC. Part of the current outreach effort targets the 340,000 people who got those flu shots but have not yet gotten a COVID-19 vaccination. 

Nevada is refining its messaging based on a growing understanding of why some people remain reluctant to get shots. Much of the focus so far has been on cultural and historical barriers that make certain groups less open to vaccinations. But for many, it may come down to simple convenience. 

Convenience an issue

“A lot of individuals are not opposed to getting vaccinated, it’s just not fitting well in their daily life,” said Karissa Loper, chief of Nevada’s Bureau of Child, Family and Community Wellness. “That’s truly what we’re moving to work on now with all of our partners, to do those mobile and pop-up clinics.” 

Jackie Shelton, a vice president with the public relations firm that Nevada hired to help promote vaccine equity and outreach, said the latest ad campaign intends to “show people who look like you — peers who are getting the vaccine and why.” 

“People don’t want to be told what to do, but they love to see their friends and others talking about why they are doing it,” she said. “It’s all about empathy. And reminding people what they have missed during the pandemic and what they can get back.” 


Future promotional ideas include raffles open to residents who are fully vaccinated by July 4. Colorado, Maryland, Ohio, New York and Oregon are among several states already enticing people with lottery prizes approaching $5 million. 

Immunize Nevada is planning vaccination pop-ups at breweries, churches and parks — complete with swag like water bottles — and scheduling them to coincide with holidays such as Juneteenth to target specific populations. 

In Reno, shots are offered at minor league baseball games, and the Medical Social Justice League at the University of Nevada’s School of Medicine was set to co-host a clinic Saturday at a Catholic church with a large Latino congregation. 

“We need to meet them where they are and where they feel safe,” Diana Sande, spokeswoman for the university’s School of Community Health Sciences, said about outreach efforts to the Latino community. 

Kyra Morgan, Nevada’s chief biostatistician, has suggested it may not be possible for the state to reach its initial goal of vaccinating 75% of the population.  

Still, communities may be able to return to normalcy even if they don’t reach the threshold needed for herd immunity, added Dr. Nancy Diao, division director for epidemiology and public health preparedness in Washoe County. 

“If we can reach a high enough population level, say maybe 60% or 70%, that might also just be good enough for our community to bring the numbers drastically down,” she said. “And we can have this virus live with us in an equilibrium like we do with so many other diseases.” 


in U.S.
Related Posts

At Tulsa Centennial, Biden Unveils Steps to Narrow Racial Wealth Gap | Voice of America

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

On Tuesday, Joe Biden became the first sitting American president to commemorate the anniversary of the destruction of a prosperous...

US Strikes Near Syria-Iraq Border Kill 5 Militia Fighters: Monitor | Voice of America

June 28, 2021

June 28, 2021

BEIRUT, LEBANON – US strikes on eastern Syria near the border with Iraq killed at least five Iran-backed militia fighters,...

Biden, Putin Brace for Possible Fight Over Ransomware | Voice of America

June 16, 2021

June 16, 2021

WASHINGTON – As President Joe Biden prepares for his first meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Geneva, the...

Cyberattack Forces World’s Largest Meat Supplier to Shut Down Operations | Voice of America

June 1, 2021

June 1, 2021

JBS Foods, the world’s largest meat supplier, has been forced to shut down operations in Australia and North America Monday, as the company has been...

US Vice President Harris to Visit US-Mexico Border | Voice of America

June 23, 2021

June 23, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is planning to visit the U.S.-Mexico border Friday as part of her effort...

Biden’s $6 Trillion Budget Sidesteps Some Campaign Pledges | Voice of America

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

WASHINGTON – When Democrat Joe Biden ran for vice president in 2008, he delivered a speech in which he repeated...

With Afghanistan’s Future at Stake, US Courts Pakistan | Voice of America

May 25, 2021

May 25, 2021

 PENTAGON/STATE DEPARTMENT/ISLAMABAD – More than three weeks into the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Washington’s plans to help ensure the country...

Secret Recordings Show Southern Baptist Dispute on Sex Abuse | Voice of America

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Releases of leaked letters and secret recordings from within the Southern Baptist Convention intensified Thursday as critics...

Blinken Heads to Middle East to Build on Israel-Hamas Cease-fire | Voice of America

May 24, 2021

May 24, 2021

STATE DEPARTMENT – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to the Middle East Monday after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect early Friday...

Americans Ramp Up Travel During Memorial Day Weekend | Voice of America

May 29, 2021

May 29, 2021

Americans are celebrating the start of the Memorial Day weekend by hitting the roads and skies as they seek to...

US Government Finds No Evidence Aerial Sightings Were Alien Spacecraft – NYT | Voice of America

June 5, 2021

June 5, 2021

U.S. intelligence officials found no evidence that unidentified aerial phenomena observed by Navy aviators in recent years were alien spacecraft,...

Death Toll Rises to 5 in Florida Building Collapse | Voice of America

June 27, 2021

June 27, 2021

Rescue workers found the body of a fifth person in the rubble of a 12-story condominium that partially collapsed Thursday,...

Britney Spears Tells Judge: ‘I Want My Life Back’ | Voice of America

June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

LOS ANGELES – After 13 years of near silence in the conservatorship that controls her life and money, Britney Spears...

Biden in UK to Meet with Allies, Putin | Voice of America

June 10, 2021

June 10, 2021

CORNWALL, ENGLAND – U.S. President Joe Biden meets Thursday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on a European trip that...

NYC Comes Back to Life 15 Months After Pandemic Began | Voice of America

July 3, 2021

July 3, 2021

Life in New York City is slowly returning to normal after the coronavirus pandemic hit the city hard more than...