HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday hosted a press conference to announce a partnership with Latino Connection and Highmark Blue Shield, to launch the first statewide COVID-19 Mobile Vaccination Clinic tour to provide vaccinations and education targeting minority and underserved communities.
“The department has worked across state agencies and with external partners, including Latino Connection and Highmark Blue Shield, to identify vulnerable populations for whom receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is especially critical,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “This partnership is another successful example of our health equity efforts to ensure Pennsylvanians, no matter where they live or what language they speak, will have access to COVID-19 vaccinations. It also will help combat vaccine hesitancy, as trusted nurses will be able to provide patients with factual, take-home educational materials about the COVID-19 vaccines.”
Latino Connection will use mobile units to conduct a statewide vaccination and education tour. One unit, called CATE (Community-Accessible Testing & Education) was used in fall 2020 for a mobile COVID-19 testing tour. All units are equipped to conduct COVID-19 vaccinations on-site through a mobile vehicle while educating the public on how to stay healthy and safe. This is the first statewide dedicated vaccine mobile clinic in Pennsylvania.
“What started as a first-of-its-kind COVID-19 mobile testing and education initiative has shifted into overdrive with the launch of the COVID-19 vaccination tour,” George Fernandez, Founder and CEO of Latino Connection said. “With more than 120 vaccination stops and 100 additional educational events on the agenda, these important resources will be accessible to people in nearly every region across Pennsylvania. We are doing what we know needs to be done, with the resources we have to win the war on COVID-19.”
Beginning next week, those who want a vaccine can visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/CATEmobileunit for information, or visit www.catemobileunit.com to pre-register for an upcoming vaccination event near them. A total of 120 mobile vaccination events will take place across the commonwealth over the coming months and will be added to the website as they are confirmed. Social distancing and masking guidelines will be followed at all times at each tour stop.
Additionally, 100 educational table-top events will take place in corner stores and bodegas in key locations where individuals who do not have access to the internet, or who are in need of assistance, will be able to pre-register for a vaccination event in person and will be provided with educational materials in both English and Spanish.
“The start of the statewide mobile unit vaccination and education tour comes at a critical turning point in Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout,” Acting Secretary Beam said. “Starting tomorrow, April 13, everyone in Pennsylvania 16 and older will be eligible to schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine. What that means for this tour is a simpler process in ensuring everyone who want a vaccine can get one when the mobile units come to their community.”
“We partnered with Latino Connection on COVID-19 testing at the beginning of the pandemic, so it makes sense that we partner again to now support the life-saving vaccination of our community” Kathleen McKenzie, Vice President of Community Affairs for Highmark Blue Shield said. “We know this will help getting more shots in arms and help so many people. We are proud to have Highmark’s name on this mobile unit that is uniquely designed to bring vaccination access and hope to people in the many hard to reach rural and underserved communities of Pennsylvania.”
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