UMMC Grenada rolls out mobile vaccine clinics to bring COVID-19 shots to most rural parts of Mississippi
GRENADA, Miss. (WCBI) – Saturday, University of Mississippi Medical Center Grenada officially debuted its Mobile Vaccine Clinic, an effort to reach some of the state’s most rural areas.
“These counties are definitely out there,” says UMMC nurse Kris Ballard. “They’re further away from any of your larger metropolitan areas in Mississippi…These are truly rural areas.”
And while many people have had a difficult time getting to the vaccine, COVID-19 has had no trouble finding them.
“UMMC had started doing studies to see why people were not readily getting the vaccine,” Ballard says. “And it was shown that there was a need for rural communities to have (better) access.”
So UMMC Grenada is bringing the vaccine to their patients. The program’s goal is to take the shots on the road to schools, businesses and churches throughout Grenada and its 12 surrounding counties (Holmes, Madison, Yalobusha, Calhoun, Webster, Montgomery, Carroll, Leflore, Tallahatchie, Attala, Yazoo and Humphreys).
“A lot of the elderly are at home and their caregivers work,” Ballard says. “So that limits them on when they can get out. You have a large number (of the population) that are home-bound and depend on others to provide their transportation.”
Currently, 52 percent of Grenada County is fully vaccinated. But that’s not good enough for Ballard, who is literally behind the wheel when it comes to these mobile clinics.
The first official event was in Duck Hill, where Ballard says they administered 6 first doses and 12 booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine.
“We have a lot of 18 to 64-year-olds that are falling in the category of either have predisposing conditions or work in a high-risk environment that also qualifies them for the booster,” she says.
She says the key to these clinics’ success will be coordinating with local leaders.
“They know their community better than I do,” Ballard says. “I’m familiar with several communities in these counties, but not every one of them.”
Leaders like Jean Woods, the program coordinator for local non-profit Action, Education & Reform, who helped bring Saturday’s event to Duck Hill.
“Our church is in the boondocks, really,” she says. “And I told Kris, ‘I can find you a local area closer’ and that’s what I did.”
The other goal of these on-the-go clinics is to educate people about the vaccine, which both Woods and Ballard agree is more effective when those people trust are involved.
“My nieces tell me every time they cough or sneeze, ‘Tee-Tee, you need to stop. You need to be with CDC because you always correcting folk when they sneeze or cough,'” Woods says.
Currently, the mobile clinics are only administering the Pfizer vaccine but Ballard says they hope to add doses of the Moderna booster in the future.
“It’s just where do I got to go and what have I got to do,” she says. “This medical clinic was created to be as accommodating as possible for any of those communities.”
For those who would like to schedule a vaccine event, they can call 662-227-7256.