BUNCOMBE COUNTY, NC – December 13, 2023 – The creation of the Mobile Vaccination Team in 2022 was one of the highlights of Buncombe County Health and Human Services and the Public Health Department during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has quickly become one of the most important new public health interventions to reach underserved rural communities and populations.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been additional federal funding for public health in Buncombe County. The Department used some of these funds to purchase a customized mobile van and hire a team of nurses and emergency medical technicians. (The van has been on back order for more than one year.) The Team started with mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics and soon expanded to mpox vaccination clinics in the fall 2022 during the mpox epidemic. The Mobile Team even partnered with our station AshevilleFM and the Getaway River Bar to offer vaccinations for mpox and COVID-19 on September 14, 2022.
The BC Public Health Outreach Team is headed by the Director of Nursing Amparo Oviero Acosta. It is still currently funded with COVID appropriations, although additional funding may be needed for its sustainability and expansion.
The Mobile Vaccination Team has evolved into a Mobile Outreach Team. According to Its website, the Team’s mission is “To partner with our community to increase equitable access to public health services, focusing on historically underserved by the healthcare system, low-income areas and rural communities.” Its values are to build access, community trust, and improve health outcomes.
The Mobile Team’s current services include:
- Vaccinations for COVID, hepatitis A/B, flu, shingles, and tetanus
- Vaccine record review
- Testing for HIV, Hep C, and sexual transmitted infection (STI)
- Treatment of STI
- Harm reduction resources, education and treatment for opioid use disorder with Naloxone
- Community resource navigation
- Health education
Its future services will include:
- Pregnancy testing
- Reproductive health
- Syringe exchange
- Applications for Medicaid, food services, and social work
- STI education
The BC Mobile Team can partner with a community or organization that is hosting an event. Requests to host an event can be submitted online at buncombecounty.org Under the county services tab, click on Departments & Agencies, then on public health, and then mobile team or contact Sarah Smith at 828-250-5716. The mobile van currently delivers services at the same location and during the same hours of many food pantries throughout Buncombe County.
Here are some of its future events: December 15 @ ABCCM West Food Distribution; December 18 @ Deaverview Community Engagement Market; and December 19 @ Big Ivy Community Center for food distribution
Listen to the full report below:
Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, email@example.com