Pediatric Vaccine Mobile serves children in the community during the pandemic
Hennepin Healthcare staff delivers exceptional care without exception, and this has remained true even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early in the pandemic, families were understandably fearful of coming to the clinics for preventative healthcare services such as immunizations. Over the next months, childhood immunization rates began to plummet nationally and in Minnesota, and there was looming risk of not just COVID-19 but vaccine preventable diseases.
A team led by pediatrician, Dr. Dawn Martin, pediatric nurse practitioner, Sheyanga Beecher, and community paramedic/EMS, Amber Brown, recognized the importance of protecting children as the most vulnerable among us. Dr. Martin and her team wanted to make sure that if children could not come to Hennepin Healthcare for essential vaccines, we would go to them.
A unique partnership developed between Department of Pediatrics and Community Paramedics, and the Vaccine Mobile began May 7th as a way to deliver vaccines to children where they live “in the community.”
The Vaccine Mobile team see toddlers, kindergartners, and adolescent who are behind or due for their vaccines but whose families are otherwise reluctant or unable to be seen in clinic. It is equipped with the ability to provide all childhood vaccines while taking necessary safety precautions against COVID-19. In addition to providing vaccines, the team also comes to each home with cloth masks, books to promote literacy, and food bags for families in need.
The Vaccine Mobile has held nine successful mobile clinics and early results are promising. Not only are families very appreciative of this service, but Hennepin Healthcare is making gains to maintain childhood vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As August’s “Immunization Awareness Month” and the school year approaches, the CDC and MDH continue to urge families to have their children seen for regular checkups. The pandemic has challenged the Department of Pediatrics and Community Paramedics to be creative in caring for our most vulnerable patients. The Pediatric Vaccine Mobile has answered this call, and we look forward to building its story of transforming healthcare for children.
About the authors
Dawn Martin, MD, MPH has over 35 years in pediatric practice, 26 years at Hennepin Healthcare with a focus on immunizations and public health. Dr. Martin has demonstrated leadership in vaccine advocacy and delivery. She is a member, and past Chair, of the Minnesota Immunizations Practices Committee; Chair of the Immunization Task Force for the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Co-chair of the Hennepin Healthcare System Vaccine Committee.
Sheyanga Beecher, APRN, CNP, MPH began nursing career as a public health nurse conducting home health visits in Baltimore, Maryland. She received her Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2010, and has worked as a pediatric nurse practitioner for over ten years and began working at Hennepin Healthcare in 2013. Sheyanga has since continued to develop and participate in public health programs in the United States and internationally, focusing on infant and child health, infectious diseases, and community-based interventions.