Inuvik's "Covid Killer Express," a hospital bus that transported the COVID-19 vaccines to communities in the region, is back on the road but this time it's targeting the town's underhoused population.
"Our mandate is to reach out to groups of people or populations that maybe have some hesitancy coming to a health centre, and making it approachable," said Sarah Fitzgerald, a registered nurse and the Beaufort Delta's regional quality risk manager.
"Offering accessible care is about going to where people are at and starting those conversations."
The bus hit the road for the second time on Friday.
It comes as the outbreak of COVID-19 in Yellowknife has spread to those who are underhoused.
The territory's chief public health officer said 19 people experiencing homeless had tested positive for COVID-19 from mid-August to Sept. 7.
Connect 'in a meaningful way'
Fitzgerald said the intent is "to connect with the community in a meaningful way," and that she feels that it's been a success so far.
"We had one individual last time we went around who was a little bit reluctant at that time, took the information and then came back this time and said, 'Yes, I'm ready.'"
She said each time they've gone around town, they ended up vaccinating just under 10 people each time. Most recently, residents were checking in and asking when they should get their follow-up shot.
Eleanor Young, president and CEO of the N.W.T. Housing Corporation, praised the initiative in Inuvik.
She said through the territorial government's Department of Health and Social Services and a collaboration with the Northwest Territories Association of Communities, funding was given to communities to find different ways to promote vaccines and reduce vaccine hesitancy.
"I think it's a great solution. A great opportunity," said Young. "Given the population, the size of Inuvik, a bus going around and trying to target that population sounds like a great way to reach those that just by statistics we believe are some of the ones that have had less access or uptake on vaccine."
She said it's a way to make sure that those who are underhoused are at least getting proper information. Fitzgerald also points out that getting information directly from a reliable source during a one-on-one conversation, can be better than hearing it from the news.
"Quality health is making it accessible to people … having those real-time conversations where questions can be answered, there can be a discussion. I think that is far more effective than anything you can just put out on the media," said Fitzgerald.
The bus will be making at least two more trips around town in the next month.