To some it may look like just another tour bus, but to those awaiting it, the big yellow rig is a ray of brightness in a world that sometimes seems to have run amok. Which may explain why no one working and volunteering on the FEMA Mobile Vaccination Unit (MVU) is the least bit surprised when there are tears.
“It happens so much, you don’t even think about it anymore,” said Timothy James Hall, OHA field operations coordinator, of the emotions they see after people get vaccinated. “People were holding off for data, holding off to see how it worked for other people. Finally, they made the decision to do it and they are relieved. There is a lot of emotion.”
The MVU has been making the rounds across the state bringing vaccines free of charge to everyone who is eligible. It comes courtesy of FEMA, which responded to OHA’s request for assistance to establish and support the MVU. The federal agency also provides personnel, financial assistance, equipment and supplies. The bus most recently pulled into Jackson County where in just two hours, more than 100 people received vaccines.
It’s not an easy choice for everyone. Some have been frightened by misinformation; some are uncertain which of the three vaccines is best for them and some are just plain scared of needles.
“We’ve certainly seen a lot of folks who are scared of needles,” said Chris Rushing, OHA field operations manager and FEMA liaison. “I had one lady that just said, ‘Hey will you hold my hand while I get the vaccination.’ So, I held her hand. It went great. There are a lot of stories like that. We certainly have a lot of instances of people wanting to get the information, then going home to think about it and coming back on another day. That’s really what we want—for people to make educated decisions about what is right for them.”
A woman in Umatilla County recently came to the MVU to get tested for the virus. She had no interest in getting the vaccination, but she did take time to talk to Hall and the MVU doctor – known for his kind manner with patients. Days later, she returned for her test results.
“She said she had really been thinking about her conversation with Timothy and was leaning toward getting vaccinated,” recalled Kassie Clarke, OHA field operations director. “She was unsure what shot to get. She finally decided on Pfizer. She was super nervous, so they held her hand. There were big smiles and hugs all the way around. Most people we see have just been so grateful and appreciative that we brought it and there is such easy access.”
If the MVU comes to your town, here’s what you need to know:
- Everyone in Oregon 12 and older is eligible
- The vaccine is free to anyone who is eligible
- No ID is necessary
- No appointment is necessary
For more on where to get your vaccination, go to GetVaccinated.Oregon.gov.