2021 Medical Reserve Corps Operational Readiness Awards (ORA) Program
The goals of this project were the following:
- To strengthen our unit’s readiness to respond to ever-changing epidemiological occurrences related to COVID-19 and potential influenza outbreaks,
- To strengthen our mass vaccination mission set, using lessons learned from mass flu vaccinations to support local response plans, and
- To develop a mission set for implementing a point of distribution training and exercise plan.
Using the lessons learned from our current collaborations with Austin Public Health (APH) and the School of Nursing’s (SON) Family Wellness Center (FWC) in running drive-through flu vaccine clinics, UTMRC members applied the unique process of conducting mass COVID vaccinations safely in this environment. The requested award strengthened our relationship with local community partners including APH, FWC and the Children’s Wellness Center, and local churches in the community that work with vulnerable populations. Because of the predicted morbidity and mortality related to influenza and COVID-19, especially within vulnerable populations, it was imperative to improve vaccination access.
UTMRC worked with the UT SON’s Disaster Preparedness Committee (DPC) and community partners serving underserved populations, to plan and implement this project within APH, the UT SON’s FWC, and local churches in East Austin, Texas. Based on the number of vaccines available, APH, FWC, CWC, and local churches provided logistical and procedural support and hosted mobile vaccination clinics at their locations. UTMRC was also instrumental in supporting the vaccination efforts for the unhoused population and people with limited transportation and/or mobility.
Through this mass vaccination activity, our unit was able to solidify the process of training and retraining volunteers for various community needs. This helped our unit to identify gaps in care not previously identified and prepare to address future emergency needs in our community. By strengthening our relationships with local partners such as the FWC and APH, we amplified their resources and contributed UTMRC volunteers. These collaborations helped build sustainability for our MRC unit by keeping our members engaged while continuing to serve our community’s needs.
Funding for the 2021 ORA program was provided by the NACCHO Challenge Award.