Mobile unit offering COVID-19 vaccines in underserved communities

As most mass vaccination sites across the country and in our area have now closed, there are many underserved communities that still need help with getting people vaccinated.

But dozens of volunteers with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Peace Corps Team 5 did just that by offering people a vaccine with the help of a mobile unit parked at Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg.

"It’s a great story to serve these communities," said Timothy Pheil, deputy coordinating officer for FEMA, Maryland. 

"It’s a great opportunity to serve the Hispanic community here in Gaithersburg."

Since April, FEMA has been operating Mobile Vaccination Units (MVU’s) to help vaccinate underserved and socially vulnerable communities across the State of Maryland. 

These efforts supported by dozens of Peace Corps volunteers have created accessible opportunities for people to get multiple vaccine types quickly, easily, and equitably. 

"We have two volunteers on our team who are fluent in Spanish, so that has been very helpful in terms of connecting with the local community, they’ve been very receptive," said Jazzmin Perry with Peace Corps Response Team 5.

"We are very welcoming to the people who maybe have been hesitant in the past but are now making the decision to come out and get their vaccine," Pheil said.

Those in charge of Saturday morning’s vaccination event said, that with the spread of COVID-19 variants, it is now even more vital for the unvaccinated to get their shot.

"The one word that I would use to surmise this, is service," Pheil said.

"The people who are here, really focused on serving their communities and being part of a service to the nation."

The mobile vaccination unit will remain available Tuesday through Sunday for the next two weeks.