The Lake Cumberland District Health Department has a new way to reach people wanting the COVID-19 vaccination.
Thanks to a state grant, the agency has a new Dodge Ram 2500 ProMaster van which has been customized to serve as a mobile clinic.
LCDHD Public Health Preparedness Manager Amy Tomlinson told the Commonwealth Journal that the department had initially applied for the expanded lab grant last summer to offer more opportunities for COVID-19 testing. Though the grant was awarded by November, the pandemic slowed down customizations and district officials were just able to receive the vehicle last Friday.
With vaccinations now moving solidly into the 1C group -- allowing for anyone 60 or older, anyone 16 or older with high-risk conditions, and all essential workers -- Tomlinson said the timing is perfect for businesses and agencies to schedule mobile clinics at their own respective sites.
"We're using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the mobile clinics," she said. "It's easier to travel with, not only because it's just one shot but also because it doesn't have the stability issues the others have where they have to be stored at a certain temperature."
The health department's first offsite clinic was held Wednesday at SKYHope Recovery Center, where some 50 women opted to be vaccinated.
"We need to get some semblance of normalcy back," Lisa Mosley said of her decision to be vaccinated.
Kim Rutledge said that she wanted to be safe not only in the group setting of SKYHope but also for her five children. "I'm a huge supporter of vaccines, having worked in a hospital for 10 years," she added.
Rutledge stuck around, offering words of encouragement for a couple of friends who seemed more hesitant to get the shot.
"Honestly I don't like needles," Stephanie McKinney said, adding she wasn't worried about the vaccine itself.
"It's a good thing they've come out with a vaccine," Melinda Hoppin said, "because a lot of people are dying."
Hoppin told the Commonwealth Journal that she'd contracted COVID-19 herself back in December but was blessed to have recovered. "It's all in God's hands," she said.
LCDHD Clinics Administrator/Nursing Director Laura Woodrum said that scheduling of future mobile clinics will depend on vaccine availability. "When we get a steadier stream, we'll be scheduling more appointments," she said.
Once the pandemic is finally over, the health department will be able to continue using the van for wellness screenings and other public health needs.