Getting vaccines the "last mile:" a panel discussion on access, equity and bringing healthcare home

Published August 3, 2021

For some Americans, getting a vaccine has been as easy as driving to a doctor's office. For others, it's not so simple.

They may want to get vaccinated, but farmworkers may not be able to leave the field in the middle of harvest. People who don't have cars or childcare may find it difficult to get out. Some may not know their options, or don't have access to information about vaccines in their own language. 

But what if a clinic-on-wheels pulled up to your farm or your apartment building?

That's the idea behind Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota's project to transform out-of-service city buses into mobile vaccine clinics. The health plan, in concert with the state's health department and a city transit authority have teamed up to send buses stocked with vaccines, volunteers and much more to communities in need but struggling with access.

In this panel discussion, hear from the driving forces behind the project about how BCBS Minnesota has vaccinated more than 5500 people, used data to identify the most vulnerable ZIP codes, brought other services to communities in need and why a community-by-community approach is fundamental to reducing racial and ethnic disparities in health.

Guests include Maria Regan Gonzales, mayor of the Minnesota city of Richfield and a BCBS Minnesota population health expert; Nash Shaikh, operations leader for the vaccine bus project and chief of staff to the president and CEO of BCBS Minnesota, and Dr. Mark Steffen, chief medical officer and vice president of BCBS Minnesota. Hosted by Kristin Gourlay with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.  

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.