REISTERSTOWN, Md. — On the outside, it may look like any other double-wide trailer, but a look inside FEMA’s custom mobile vaccination unit reveals its vital role in addressing the pandemic.
The arrival of the mobile units gives Brigadier General Janeen Birkhead another tool to deliver vaccines to those who are hardest to reach including her own mother who raised her on the Eastern Shore.
“My mom is the primary caregiver for my kids and I didn’t want them to feel like they gave her something,” said Birkhead. “So it was really personal on several different levels for her as a leader of our family right now to say, ‘Yes. I’m going to step up and get it.’”
With nine counties on the shore that have a combined population less than that of Baltimore City, taking the shots to them is essential.
“There will be a total of 30 people on the ground in support of the mission in addition to the full resources of FEMA Region 3,” said Acting FEMA Region 3 Administrator Janice Barlow. “Over the several weeks, we project to administer hundreds of shots per day… approximately 250.”
“We want to make it as easy as possible for the community that’s coming understanding this is a big day for everyone,” a FEMA employee explained while giving us a tour of a mobile unit.
And another big step for Brigadier General Birkhead, tasked with delivering the vaccine across the state to those who may not be able to seek it out on their own.
“When you take away the technology barrier and you take away the transportation barrier and then what’s left is that human connection, and I think that’s the most important part---that human connection, and you can get them in the door, make them feel comfortable that they’re in their community. ‘I saw Miss Birkhead get that shot and I’m going to get it too.’ That’s where we make a difference.”
FEMA only has 30 of the mobile units, and fortunately, Maryland has two of them assigned here.