CMU health bus supports rural vaccination effort

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BELVIDERE TOWNSHIP., Mich. (WOOD) — A partnership between Central Michigan University and the Mid-Michigan District Health Department is bringing COVID-19 vaccines to areas that aren’t as far along in the rollout process. 

State dashboard data shows rural counties are behind more populous ones when it comes to coverage percentage.

That’s where CMU’s Mobile Health Center comes in.

News 8 visited the Six Lakes clinic Tuesday, which provided the lifesaving Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Quite honestly, there’s a lot of individuals who don’t have the transportation or can’t take the time off work or whatever the case may be,” CMU Physician Assistant Program Director Debra Kimball-Christie told News 8. “And so, having a rural bus that’s able to come to rural areas without having to travel a long distance is very appealing.”

Karen Delamater was one of 90 people to be vaccinated in Six Lakes.

“This is awesome to be able to do it in your own hometown,” she said while sharing what she’s looking forward to. “Going back to some sort of normalcy, being able to have family gatherings again and being able to go to weddings. And, you know, sad as it is, to be able to attend funerals once again for people you’ve loved and respected for years.”

Delamater owns Hair Society, a salon in town. She’s seen both a personal and professional impact from COVID-19.

“I was shut down for three months,” she explained. “It’s been very crazy, very scary to have people coming into your shop, wondering if you’re going to get infected or not. I’ve done my best to use the Lysol and keep everything really clean, but it’s been very hard.”

Tuesday was the second time MMDHD allotted doses to the mobile clinic. The bus visited St. Louis and Edmore March 11. 

In addition to providing that light at the end of the tunnel for residents, the mobile site also acts as a classroom; students are helping run the clinics.

“For my students, it provides them an opportunity to have patient contact,” Kimball-Christie explained. “(They’re) working in conjunction with the nursing students as well as the public health students from CMU.”

The hope is as more doses become available, more clinics can be planned for additional rural areas.

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