Fall River (MA) EMS Trailer Makes Getting Vaccinated Even Easier

This latest method of getting free COVID-19 vaccinations in the city comes courtesy of the Fall River Emergency Medical Services' newly acquired emergency-response, mobile trailer unit.

Charles Winokoor

The Herald News, Fall River, Mass.

(MCT)

Drive up, get a shot and leave. What could be simpler?

And if you don’t own a car then just walk up, register and get vaccinated.

This latest method of getting free COVID-19 vaccinations in the city comes courtesy of the Fall River Emergency Medical Services’ newly acquired emergency-response, mobile trailer unit.

Wednesday marked the second day the 31-foot-long, towable trailer — which is now equipped with a small refrigerator for storing vaccine doses — was put into service by EMS workers and local health department nurses.

The location was the front parking lot area of the Seabra Foods supermarket on Stafford Road.

“We had grocery shopping to do today so it all worked out,” said Lynn Keilty, who lives in the city’s Globe section.

She said her sister drove her to the Seabra Foods parking lot so that she could be vaccinated.

Keilty, 64, had just gotten her single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and was sitting on a cushioned bench in the trailer for what is now a requisite 15 minutes, to ensure there are no immediate adverse effects.

Keilty said she’s disabled and has trouble walking for more than a few minutes at a time, which is why she decided not to go to the regional vaccine site at the former Circuit City building in Dartmouth.

“There would be too many people, and it would be a lot of walking,” she said.

Keilty said she saw a news report last week about the new EMS mobile unit and then logged on to the city’s frvax.com website — which includes a “clinic calendar” with a week’s worth of information for vaccine sites, hours of operations and whether pre-registration is required.

On Tuesday, the first day it was put to use, the trailer was parked in front of the Price Rite supermarket on Pleasant Street, according to EMS Lt. Nick Silva.

Silva said the mobile clinic is also scheduled on Friday to visit the nonprofit Community Connections on Davol Street to give the second of two Moderna vaccines to staff members and adult day care clientele.

And he said he has a meeting on Thursday with a Market Basket representative to arrange for the use of the supermarket’s site inside the SouthCoast Marketplace shopping center.

“We’re trying everything we can to get people vaccinated,” said Deb Kosior, who with Leslie Moniz was one of two Fall River public health nurses registering people as they arrived and then administering their shots.

She said the mobile unit program is not restricted to Fall River residents.

The mobile unit was open from 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesday. Only a handful of people by mid morning had shown up to be vaccinated. Silva said a total of 14 people were vaccinated on Tuesday.

“We’ll just keep going until nobody wants it anymore,” he said.

At one point a young woman appeared to be ready to register, but changed her mind and left after she was told she would be given a Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Kosior calls it “vax shopping.” She said some people don’t feel comfortable getting the J&J vaccine a month after six women, one of whom died, developed rare blood clots after being vaccinated.

Nearly seven million people at the time had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with no reports of serious reactions. After a two-week discontinuation the vaccine was again deemed safe for public use.

“I get it, but now we know how to treat the clots even if it happened,” Kosior said.

Recent polls have shown that as many as 20 percent of Americans are not interested in getting vaccinated.

“People are still wary, which is why the numbers are so low,” Silva said.

More than 580,000 U.S. citizens have died from the coronavirus, which in March of 2020 was declared a national emergency.

Silva said the new mobile vaccine unit can also be used as a COVID-19 testing site and will in fact be used for that purpose for members of the graduating class of Atlantis Charter School, who plan on attending this year’s senior prom.

Registered nurse Diane Richard, the school’s “nurse leader,” said seniors who plan to go to the prom in Newport on May 26 must be tested within 48 hours of the event, as required by Rhode Island health officials.

Richard said the fire department’s EMS division has agreed to bring its trailer to the grounds of Atlantis Charter School on Monday, May 24, so that the 68 students can be tested.

Silva said the procedure will be quick and easy: Each student will be swabbed for a test sample while sitting in a vehicle. Results, he said, will be emailed and sent by text within a few hours.

Richard said the city’s EMS division offered to help after the school contacted Tess Curran, director of Fall River’s Health and Human Services Department, and asked her for advice.

Richard said EMS Director Tim Oliveira then made arrangements for the trailer to be available that day.

“It’s very convenient for all our students, and I think it’s great that the city is doing this for us,” she said.

Oliveira said the $141,000 trailer was purchased from the OPS Public Safety company in Watertown, New York using CARES Act funding the city received last year.

Free COVID-19 testing is still available to the public six days a week in the parking lot of Bristol Community College on Elsbree Street.

A Cambridge company called CIC Health has been operating the mobile testing site since January.

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(c)2021 The Herald News, Fall River, Mass.

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