Pop-Up Clinics Make Vaccines And Health Workers More Accessible To Public
As COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Michigan move out of health buildings and into public spaces, they become more easily accessible to people who are on the fence about getting a shot but also to people who are vehemently opposed to vaccines.
Lisa Turk was working at a vaccine clinic in Emmet County last Thursday when she thought she might get hit by a truck.
Turk is a nurse with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. She said it started suddenly.
“Somebody backed up their truck really fast right into the parking lot right next to where we were at, and I wasn’t sure he was going to stop,” she said. “He did stop, and then drove off with a very loud muffler."
Turk said she’s not sure if the incident was meant to intimidate her or if perhaps the driver was just in a hurry. But, she said, the fact that she wondered at all about the driver’s state of mind shows how contentious the COVID-19 vaccination effort has become.
Turk said she hasn’t experienced any violence, and, in general, she does not feel unsafe at vaccine clinics, but she has heard loud and vocal opposition at some places they’ve visited.
Grace Burns, a technician with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, said she’s had times she’s grateful for the sense of security she gets from the mostly male logistics crew that often accompanies the health workers at mobile clinics.
“We’re mostly women, and people have said, the girls have said, ‘We’re kind of glad they’re here standing behind us today,’ in certain locations,” said Burns.
Staff with the Central Michigan District Health Department said they’d been on the receiving end of profanity and raised middle fingers at some of their clinics.
Health workers across the country have reported intimidation and harassment as they encouraged pandemic containment measures, but public health departments in Michigan said they would not be deterred from their efforts to make getting vaccinated as convenient as possible.
The state health department’s data show about 47% of eligible Michiganders have been fully vaccinated.
Health departments in Michigan said they would be happy to talk with anyone who has questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccines.
Officials said over time, those conversations can reduce vaccine hesitancy and increase the number of people willing to get the shots.