Vaxi Taxi

Jhala French packs up the Teton County Health Department’s Vaxi Taxi after its Monday afternoon stop at Jackson Hole Airport. The mobile vaccination crew made stops in Kelly, Moran and Moose that day, and spent Tuesday in Wilson and Alta. The pop-up clinic will make two stops Wednesday, first at the Hoback Market from 10 to 11 a.m. and then at The Bird from noon to 1 p.m.

News&Guide’s COVID-19 coverage provided free to the community
However, this coverage is not free to produce. Our newsroom is working long hours to provide you the news and information you need during this public health crisis. We rely on our subscribers and advertisers to underwrite our news mission. Please consider supporting our efforts by subscribing today.

With 80% of adults over 18 fully vaccinated in Teton County, vaccinated individuals now make up the majority of the community. Now health officials are launching an innovative vaccination effort to further increase the community protection from COVID-19.

“The whole goal is to try to get to the people, to make it easier for people,” Public Health Response Coordinator Rachael Wheeler said.

The Health Department’s new “Vaxi Taxi,” a repurposed START bus turned mobile vaccine clinic, aims to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines by reaching outlying populations that are unable to get their shots at the Health Department in town.

“Having a more mobile unit where we can easily set up inside that unit becomes really convenient for us,” Wheeler said.

Nurses check in patients under a tent outside the bus and ask patients about any potential COVID-19 symptoms or recent contact with infected individuals. Nurses also patiently describe side effects they might experience after the vaccine, usually a sore arm and mild fever.

Patients then head onto the Vaxi Taxi, where they receive their shots in the seats passengers have generally used for transportation. The Vaxi Taxi sports two tables that can be set up and put away with ease, seats for vaccine recipients, medical forms and equipment for vaccine distribution, and a team of friendly professionals waiting to administer the vaccines.

Outside, chairs are spaced out beneath a tent so recipients can rest in the shade for the waiting period after their shots.

The health department has used mobile clinics in the past to help public outreach for flu vaccines. Usually, their mobile clinics simply transport supplies to vaccination sites like the Senior Center of Jackson Hole.

Operating out of the Vaxi Taxi allows the team to hold clinics at more locations around the valley as well as more efficient set ups and easy clean up.

Bryce Villalobos, a station agent at the Jackson Hole Airport, got his vaccine in the Vaxi Taxi on Monday evening in the parking lot of the Jackson airport. Getting his shot at work was bittersweet because Teton County’s first COVID-19 fatality was Bill Sweney, an airport employee who Villalobos had worked with personally.

Vaxi Taxi

Julie Hugel, a retired nurse anesthetist volunteering with the Teton County Health Department, goes over some information with Bryce Villalobos on Monday inside the department’s Vaxi Taxi mobile vaccination clinic at Jackson Hole Airport.

For some members of the community, like Villalobos, it can be more challenging to arrange vaccine appointments due to lack of transportation or scheduling conflicts that prevent them from visiting the Health Department clinic while it is open. By offering extra opportunities and sites for vaccinations the Vaxi Taxi addresses those barriers to care.

“I’ve been working 12- to 13-hour days, I didn’t have time to schedule an appointment,” Villalobos said.

No appointments are needed for the Vaxi Taxi, so anyone is welcome to show up at any stop on the route. Detailed schedule information is available at TetonCountyWY.gov/vaxitaxi.

The mobile clinic offers both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose regimen, while the Johnson & Johnson shot is just one. Both are available for people 18 and older.

Anyone under 18 will need the Pfizer shot, which is only available at the Health Department because it requires cold storage.

The Vaxi Taxi is also working directly with employers and encourages employers who are interested to coordinate with the Health Department to bring the Vaxi Taxi to their business.

“Some businesses have already reached out to us specifically, so we are going to them and we’ll just continue reaching out to different businesses to see where the demand is,” Wheeler said.

On Wednesday the Vaxi Taxi will head south with stops at Hoback Market and The Bird.

“It’s important to public health to increase equity and access,” Wheeler said. “We feel like the Vaxi Taxi is doing exactly that.”

Contact Analeise S. Mayor at 732-7076 or amayor@jhnewsandguide.com.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.
.
The News&Guide welcomes comments from our paid subscribers. Tell us what you think. Thanks for engaging in the conversation!

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.