Mobile pediatric clinic brings vaccines to patients’ homes to limit coronavirus exposure

BOSTON — As parents worry about exposure to coronavirus when bringing their kids to the doctor’s office, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center is bringing the vaccines right outside patients’ homes.

Repurposing a van for elder services, the health center launched its Mobile Pediatric Vaccine Clinic and began traveling to its youngest patients’ homes in and around the East Boston area.

On Wednesday morning, the driver and a small team of nurses pulled up to Nicollette Echevarria’s Revere home. A nurse called Echevarria and asked a few questions, including whether she or her 16-month-old son, Nicolas, had a cough or fever and if anyone in the house had been exposed to Covid-19.

The nurse instructed Echevarria to bring Nicolas out to the van wearing a diaper and wrapped in a blanket to reduce the amount of time in the van spent on undressing.

Within a few minutes, Nicolas had been weighed and vaccinated for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP); the flu; and pneumococcal disease (PCV13).

While her son shed a few tears, Echevarria felt relieved.

“Despite knowing how much he needed his vaccinations, I was not going to bring him in,” Echevarria said. “So when I found out they offered the mobile van, I said, ‘Absolutely.’ It brought so much peace to me.”

A community health care worker at Bowdoin Street Health Center in Dorchester, Echevarria has already been taking as many precautions as possible to keep her family safe.

“I already expose my family once when I go to work,” Echevarria said. “So I couldn’t imagine going to another clinic and potentially running the risk again.”

The health center has reassured parents its facility has been separated into healthy and sick buildings and that they can feel comfortable bringing their kids in for vaccines. But the mobile clinic is becoming a popular alternative, providing vaccinations for about 10 children each day. Over the past few weeks, dozens of patients have been vaccinated in East Boston and surrounding areas.

Nurse Kendra Alexandre understands parents' concerns. She told Boston 25 News keeping kids’ vaccines on schedule is crucial not only to keep them healthy but to prevent a larger outbreak, too.

“This decreases the risk of them being exposed to Covid-19,” Alexandre said. “And we’re also able to prevent a potential public health crisis after Covid-19 by getting them the vaccines that they need… The DTaP, for example, prevents a disease called pertussis, and if we were to have an outbreak of that, it would be horrific for the community.”

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