Thanks to a successful mobile vaccination partnership between the Town of Hempstead and Mount Sinai South Nassau that was formed by Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin and the Hempstead Town Board, patients who test positive for COVID-19 will now be able to obtain the antiviral oral medication Paxlovid via the Vaxmobile.
The mobile “test and treat” option is the first of its kind on Long Island.
“The Hempstead Town Board and I are proud to have spearheaded an initiative with Mount Sinai South Nassau that has proven to be an effective combatant against COVID-19,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin. “From serving as a mobile testing unit, to a mobile vaccination unit, and now being able to provide residents with antiviral medication, the Vaxmobile continues to be a surefire success.”
Community members who test positive for COVID-19 and who are cleared to receive Paxlovid after a clinical evaluation can easily receive it on the spot without having to travel to a pharmacy. Beginning today, those who show proof of a positive test (at-home tests are accepted) or who test positive at the Vaxmobile and qualify for Paxlovid can receive the antiviral drug onsite. Paxlovid pills are offered at no cost with a prescription from a health care provider.
“The Vaxmobile has been a reliable tool in the fight against COVID-19,” said Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito. “By now having the ability to provide Paxlovid to patients in need, the Vaxmobile continues to be a healthy investment by the Town of Hempstead for the well-being of our community.”
The rate of COVID-19 infection in Nassau County is now at 16 percent. Paxlovid has emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 outside the hospital. It is recommended for those 12 years of age or older within five days of symptoms and who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.
“We are now in the sixth wave of the pandemic. While vaccination continues to provide the best protection against COVID-19, now more than ever, treatment that is easily accessible is an important next step to stopping further spread of the virus and preventing severe illness and hospitalization,” said Adhi Sharma, MD, President of Mount Sinai South Nassau. “The Vaxmobile has proven that the easier we make it for patients to obtain vaccination and treatment, the more likely they are to get the protection they need. The ‘test and treat’ option is a logical next step.”
Health care providers at the Vaxmobile will offer prescriptions for Paxlovid to those who qualify. Same-day visits will be arranged onsite, either in person or via telehealth. Paxlovid will be distributed on the spot, or a prescription will be sent to a convenient local pharmacy that carries the drug.
“Supervisor Clavin and the Town Board recognized the importance of having a mobile unit more than a year ago,” said Dr. Sharma. “I thank them for their continued partnership in this important public health effort.”
Since its inauguration in March 2020, the Vaxmobile, among the first COVID-19 mobile units in New York State, has been on the road continually, bringing vaccines directly to vulnerable populations at high risk of exposure in hard-hit communities by reducing transportation, language, and technology barriers to immunization. It has administered close to 12,000 vaccines in dozens of communities.
“Out-of-hospital antiviral treatments like Paxlovid are a game changer in our fight against COVID-19, as they make recovery easier and more manageable,” said Aaron E. Glatt, MD, Chair of Medicine and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau. “Testing is key. The latest strains of COVID-19 are even more contagious than the original. For those who are eligible, Paxlovid should be taken as soon as possible—no more than five days after symptoms begin.”
The Vaxmobile was first funded in January 2021 with $695,042 from the $133 million federal CARES Act legislation to provide economic relief to Town of Hempstead businesses, organizations, and residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding was continued into 2022.
The handicapped-accessible mobile unit is staffed by a bilingual clinical team from Mount Sinai South Nassau, including a nurse practitioner, licensed practical or registered nurses, registrars, and community health education professionals. The primary mission of the mobile vaccination unit is to educate the public about the importance and safety of the vaccines; reduce transportation, language, and technology barriers to vaccination; and bring vaccines directly to underserved communities. The Vaxmobile has been operating since March 2021, visiting communities such as Elmont, Uniondale, Hempstead, Freeport, Westbury, and Baldwin. It now vaccinates everyone two years of age and older at community centers, senior centers, churches, high schools, middle schools, firehouses, and local colleges.
Mount Sinai South Nassau and the Town continue to communicate directly with community leaders to schedule visits to convenient and popular locations in the Town, including faith-based organizations, libraries, recreation centers, senior centers, parks, and train stations. Organizations or centers interested in scheduling a visit for eligible residents or obtaining more information should email VaxMobile@snch.org. Additional information about the mobile unit and its schedule will be posted on the Town and hospital websites and Facebook pages.
“The Vaxmobile and its Mount Sinai South Nassau team have been doing a fantastic job of helping our community, I look forward to the continued progression of the Vaxmobile as it evolves to meet the needs of our residents,” concluded Clavin.