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Treasure Valley vaccine providers expanding resources as demand decreases

St. Alphonsus Health and St. Luke's Health have launched mobile vaccine units in order to reach more people as demand for COVID-19 vaccines wanes.

BOISE, Idaho — The number of vaccines administered in Idaho continues to decrease, with new numbers showing the supply also going down. As demand decreases, medical providers in the Gem State are finding new ways to make sure each dose is being used and going out into the community.

"It is definitely a team effort," said Carlos Alcazar, the private secretary of head Mexico consul Ricardo Gerado Higuera.

The Consulate of Mexico in Boise works alongside the Hispanic community in the Treasure Valley. As part of that work, Higuera and the consulate have been able to see the need for more COVID-19 vaccine efforts for the people they serve.

“We know how our Mexican nationals are, they're work-oriented," Alcazar said. "I don’t want to say that they’d much rather be working, but they’re working. The second challenge would be commuting. They're usually working outside the cities or locations where vaccines are."

The Hispanic population isn’t the only group having difficulties making time or getting access to the vaccine. Medical providers in the Treasure Valley note senior housing services, homeless shelters, other communities of color around the state and other groups also have limited access to the vaccine.

"We’re finding that our clinics are still being used but we’re learning about pockets of people who may be reluctant to make an appointment or maybe it's difficult," said Scott Milner, the senior director of pharmacy at St. Luke's Health System.

Data from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the number of vaccines administered in the state has dropped each of the last three weeks. About 95,000 vaccines were administered in Idaho the week of Apr. 4. Each week since the number of doses has decreased by at least 10,000. Last week, IDHW reports only 51,000 doses were administered to Idahoans.

“I think we got in the last few months people who really wanted it, for the most part, have taken their chance," Milner said.“I think there is a part of the public that are looking at this and wondering does it have enough validity basis that it is safe and effective.”  

Medical groups are creating resources that will focus efforts on reaching and making it more convenient for those whose access to the vaccine is limited.

Providers like St. Alphonsus Health and St. Luke’s Health have launched mobile vaccine units to travel around the state and provide more accessible vaccine sites. St. Luke's mobile units can also be reserved by businesses and organizations to host vaccination events. 

"We hope people realize these are working," said Milner.

The Consulate of Mexico believes the travel to different locations, whether it’s to a rural part of the state or just to a business's parking lot, is the next best step in the vaccine effort. With the help from the St. Luke's, the Consulate is hosting a vaccine event outside their building from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 pm.. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

“People can come in and get their documents and get vaccinated at the same time," Alcazar said.