Parkland Health is hitting the road to increase the childhood vaccine rate in Dallas County.
Parkland’s Population Health division has a new mobile vaccination clinic that will soon travel to Dallas schools and other locations in areas with low childhood immunization rates, offering all CDC-recommended childhood vaccines.
The new vaccination vehicle removes the barriers that can make immunizations a challenge for many families, whether that be scheduling conflicts, insurance status or transportation issues.
“The new mobile unit will take the care to the patient where they are,” said Kaneez Khan, MD, Lead Staff Physician, Parkland’s Youth & Family Centers. “If you’re not able to come to one of our clinics, this increases the access, and by going directly to the school campuses will reduce school absenteeism.”
The mobile immunization unit will soon travel to rotating sites in Dallas County four to six days a week, targeting areas with low immunization rates. While the goal is to improve the vaccine rate among children, outreach will also include COVID and flu vaccine initiatives for all ages.
“It’s also a convenience for parents,” said Melissa Gonzales, BSN, RN, AMB-BC Nurse Manager of Parkland’s Youth & Family Centers. “Since we come to the school on a day when classes are in session, we are able to have the school nurses escort the children from class to the mobile unit with consent forms already signed, and a parent doesn’t have to take off of work to be present.”
The mobile unit is equipped with an exam table and a medical-grade refrigerator and freezer to safely transport and store vaccines, which allows for community outreach events of up to 6 hours. When healthcare workers transport vaccines in coolers for community events, state regulations limit that time to 4 hours.
The vehicle was federally funded as part of U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s community project funding requests shortly before her recent retirement from Congress after 30 years. Elected in 1992, Johnson was the first registered nurse elected to Congress.
The mobile unit will be on display at the Dallas Independent School District’s Fam Jam event, Saturday, March 25 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, 3030 Stag Rd., Dallas, 75241. While immunizations at this event will be administered at a traditional inside clinic, the new mobile unit will allow attendees to get a sneak preview of the vehicle and learn about its future schedule and services.
According to the 2022 Dallas County Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), Texas has the highest percentage of people without health coverage in the U.S. at 17% uninsured. The percentage in Dallas County is even higher than the state average at 21%. Without health insurance, many parents skip their children’s well visits exams, resulting in children going without their needed vaccines and becoming susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases. In addition, during the pandemic, there was a 44% average decline in the number of pediatric vaccines administered in Texas.