Hospital, town offer COVID ‘test and treat’ vaxmobile


Thanks to a partnership between Mount Sinai South Nassau and the Town of Hempstead, eligible patients testing positive for COVID can get  the antiviral oral medication Paxlovid on the vaxmobile,

A handicapped-accessible mobile unit, the vaxmobile is a “test and treat option,” that makes healthcare amid the pandemic more accessible. It is staffed by a bilingual Mount Sinai South Nassau clinical team, including a nurse practitioner, licensed practical or registered nurses, registrars and community health education professionals.

“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,” Dr. Adhi Sharma, president of Mount Sinai South Nassau, said in a statement.

“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,” he added. “The ‘test and treat’ option is a logical next step.”

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin said the partnership “has proven to be an effective combatant against COVID-19. 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 receive it on the spot without traveling to a pharmacy. Beginning Tuesday, those who show proof of a positive test – and 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 healthcare provider.

The effort comes at a time when the seven-day COVID-19 positive test rate in Nassau County hit 11.3 percent, and may likely be higher since most home test results are not reported to the Department of Health.

Paxlovid has emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID 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.

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.”

The vaxmobile, considered to be 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,” Dr. Aaron Glatt, chair of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau, said in a statement.

“Testing is key,” Glatt added. “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 initially received funding 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 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 such communities as Elmont, Uniondale, Hempstead, Freeport, Westbury and Baldwin. It now offers vaccines to everyone two years of age and older at community centers, senior centers, churches, high schools, middle schools, firehouses and colleges.



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