CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The COVID-19 vaccine is hitting the streets in Mecklenburg County.
WCNC Charlotte has learned the Mecklenburg County Health Department is using so-called ‘strike teams’ to vaccinate people out in the community.
The strike teams aren’t going to individual homes, but they are going to some places in the community where people wouldn’t be vaccinated otherwise.
“One of the ways that we're going out into the community is what we refer to as strike teams,” Dr. Meg Sullivan, the medical director for the Mecklenburg County Health Department, said.
The strike teams allow people who can’t make it to the Bojangles' Coliseum to still be vaccinated because the team goes to them. Each team has two to six members, which can include local firefighters, Medic personnel, and health department staff.
“It’s definitely made an impact, and I think especially allowed us to reach facilities and populations that we otherwise wouldn't reach if we only had our Bojangles' location,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said the strike teams have vaccinated people at 20 different locations. Right now, they’re focusing on long-term care facilities that aren’t enrolled in the federal vaccine program, senior living centers, and homeless shelters.
“That would include individuals that are both our sheltered homeless and unsheltered homeless to see if we can identify individuals over the age of 65 that are interested in receiving the vaccine,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said they closely follow state guidance so that only team members trained as EMTs or paramedics can administer the vaccine.
“We’ve worked very closely with them to develop a training process,” Sullivan said. “This is what they do, they are first responders, they are out in the community, they're already trained to give injections.”
The team’s role is expected to continue to evolve when more priority groups become eligible for the vaccine.
“As we get to group three right, that might look something different,” Sullivan said.
The strike teams are helping to take the fight against COVID-19 out in the streets.
“When we talk about equity, which has been a central focus of what we're trying to do, that is how you accomplish it,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said the vaccine storage and use requirements make it a challenge to send the strike team to individual homes, so they’re trying to use the team the best way possible.
Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.