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Prisma Health targeting underserved communities with mobile vaccination clinics | Coronavirus

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) — A customized fleet of RVs could soon carry the COVID-19 vaccine to a neighborhood near you. 

Shady Oak Baptist Church will host one of Prisma Health’s first mobile vaccination clinics.

Each weekend, teams will take the Pfizer vaccine into areas where people would otherwise struggle to get the shot. 

68-year-old William Mason lives in the Gantt area near Shady Oak Baptist Church, 1117 White Horse Road, and is just days away from getting his second covid-19 vaccine.

“I am tickled to death knowing that way I’ll quit worrying so much,” Mason said. “It’s gotten where we don’t even get out anymore.”

Mason will get his second dose at the VA, but not everyone is that lucky with a nearby option. 

That’s why Dr. Kerry Sease, the leader of Prisma’s COVID-19 operations, and her team picked the spot along White Horse Road. 

“We’re able to look at our internal data and determine, you know, which zip codes — actually down to the census track level — who is coming to our current mass vaccination sites,” Sease said. “One of the other things we’re looking at is who’s not. So which zip codes, which census tracks, aren’t showing up.”

The Gantt area is one of those.

Census data shows the neighborhood has a higher-than-average population of people 65 and up. It also shows the Black community makes up about 51{41490b4d0cf0dbc5ec3f65e11fff509c7d6ed2a53a838ebf7adf43f0908f07f3} of the population. That’s a group that’s been underrepresented in the vaccine rollout, according to DHEC.

“I think it’s an ideal spot here because it helps a lot of the people around here,” Mason said. “A lot of them are elderly people and they don’t get around too good.”

The three closest permanent vaccination sites to Shady Oak are about three miles away, according to DHEC.

The mobile site will allow Prisma to vaccinate up to 400 people at once.

As we spoke with people in community, many said they would not get the vaccine.

Charles Utszy, another member of the Gantt community, said better access could change that.

“You get that vaccine shot, it’ll probably change a lot of people’s minds,” he said. “A lot of loved ones … they can have their family around.”

Prisma’s clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow, but it is only for people in the surrounding community. Sease said they’ve gone out into the community ahead of time to spread the word about the event and to encourage people to sign up. 

Currently, Sease said Prisma has mobile events booked every weekend through mid-April. 

Prisma said in a later statement that mobile clinic “vaccine registration is limited to each targeted community to ensure those community members have access to the vaccine. Community-site hosts will work with Prisma Health to reach out to eligible residents to assist them in making appointments for the mobile events. Prisma Health hopes to continue to expand vaccine access to vulnerable communities across its footprint.”

Other Prisma vaccine sites in the Upstate include Oconee Memorial Hospital and the mass-vaccination sites at the former Kmart location near Greenville Memorial Hospital and at The Ridge in Laurens County.  

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