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After nearly a year in service, N.H.’s COVID vaccine vans are reaching the end of the road

A Mobile Vaccine Van at parked at Bear Brook State Park
Alli Fam
/
NHPR
New Hampshire's mobile vaccine vans made stops all across the state, from housing complexes to outdoor events. Last summer, they also visited Bear Brook State Park.

New Hampshire’s COVID-19 vaccine van initiative is retiring this month after operating for nearly a full year.

From housing complexes to state parks, the mobile vaccine vans have traveled all over New Hampshire. Some clinics have administered hundreds of shots, while others saw fewer than 10 people.

The retirement of the vaccine vans is part of a long-standing plan to shift responsibility for New Hampshire's pandemic response away from state government and toward the private healthcare system. The vaccine for infants and young children, which is expected to roll out later this month, will be primarily distributed at pharmacies, doctors offices and urgent care centers, rather than state operated clinics.

At the mobile vaccine clinic program's peak, the state operated seven vans in total. This outreach was a key part of New Hampshire’s vaccine equity initiative, which aimed to make the vaccine more accessible to residents who faced barriers accessing healthcare due to, for example, language or a lack of transportation. While public health workers reported anecdotal success from these mobile clinics, their impact on reducing health disparities has been harder to measure.

The vans were also a part of the strategy to reach vaccine-hesitant Granite Staters who weren’t actively seeking out the vaccine in more traditional medical settings.

State officials awarded millions in federal funds to the two companies responsible for staffing the vaccine vans, ConvenientMD and On-Site Medical Services.

The contract between New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services and ConvenientMD, based in Portsmouth, totaled more than $5 million. While ConvenientMD also operated some fixed vaccination sites, this contract only covered mobile services.

The state’s contract with On-Site Medical Services, based in Charlestown, totaled more than $35 million. But that contract covered services beyond just mobile vaccine van outreach, including the operation of several fixed vaccination sites and the state's home-based vaccination program.

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