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Employers can host COVID vaccination clinics

Thinking out of the box remote sites host vaccinations

Nevada County Public Health Department has a group of health professionals contacting some of the most vulnerable in the area to vaccinate them against the coronavirus.

The REACH (Resources for Equity and Access in Community Health) team, comprised of a crew of dedicated nurses making house calls, was launched this spring. They help those who lack their own vehicles or internet access, or do not speak fluent English, can no longer drive, are too frail to travel alone or live in remote residences away from public transit.

People in those circumstances still need protection against COVID-19, said Ryan Gruver, the county’s Health and Human Services director. Gruver praised the success of the REACH team vaccinating independent living facility residents of Hilltop Commons and Bret Harte Retirement Inn, as well as some smaller retirement homes.



The REACH team has vaccinated over 150 seniors and plans more visits in the coming weeks.

Another outreach initiative is to persuade employers to volunteer their business sites as pop-up vaccination locations as another way to achieve the goal of vaccinating more than 70% of the county population, and therefore attain herd immunity. So far, there has been modest interest among some firms.




“There is not a lot of businesses who have volunteered their location,” said Gruver. “But we are hopeful more employers will sign up. There is considerable research that shows people are more trusting of their own doctor than the Public Health Department. And they trust more in their own employer, family and friends.”

And in light of the REACH team’s success, Gruver is thinking about an expanded deployment that could improve other medical outcomes in the future beyond just combating COVID-19.

COLLABORATION

The REACH team has been in operation since March, said Cindy Wilson, Public Health director of nursing.

“We also began to offer this service in apartment complexes, community centers and homes,” she said.

Like all of the Public Health department’s initiatives, collaboration has been key to the success of the program.

“It takes not only a team of skilled nurses, but the willingness of facility staff to make this work. There is a real community spirit behind this effort, and our partners at independent living facilities have made this possible for their residents,” Wilson said.

While the REACH Team provides the nurses, equipment, and vaccine, the facility staff is responsible for logistics — setting up the space to maintain social distancing and assisting residents in completing paperwork before the REACH Team arrives to administer shots.

“They know their residents and are able to support them when we’re there. They can tell us who needs a little more care or assistance and they can provide support if someone is not feeling well after their shot,” said Wilson. “If businesses want to have vaccination clinics they can go to this address: MyNevadaCounty.com/BizVax. They can fill out some information and then one of the REACH nurses will get in touch with them within two to three business days for further planning.”

Business vaccine sites usually maintain a mutually agreeable time to vaccinate and can sometimes include before or after operating hours as well as accommodate walk-in employees.

“We try to be flexible to meet the expressed needs,” said Wilson. “Often we bring more than one vaccine, usually the J & J plus one of the mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccines.”

The Johnson & Johnson dose requires just one injection, but the others need two, typically three to four weeks apart. The REACH team will adjust its schedule to accommodate a business with a return visit. Also, having an on-site clinic allows employees go to a familiar and convenient place with less disruption to work schedules. And if a business can increase the percentage of vaccinated employees, the risk of spreading COVID in the workplace decreases.

“Any opportunity that increases the percentage of people who are vaccinated is helpful for decreasing the spread of the virus, including the variants,” said Wilson. “This means fewer sick people, fewer sick days for quarantine and fewer deaths. “

So far, not a lot of employers have embraced the program, Wilson said.

“Some believe that all their employees who want the vaccine have done so, making a workplace vaccine clinic unnecessary,” she added. “If employees ask for a work place vaccine clinic, that might improve motivation.”

William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at wroller@theunion.com

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