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How did you and your team come up with the idea of bringing a vaccination bus to the UZH sites?
Céline Moser: We noticed this summer that fewer people were coming to the reference vaccination center of the Canton of Zurich at Hirschengraben to get vaccinated. Also, the people who did come seemed rather anxious and tense; some were afraid of injections in general, and the clinical setting of the vaccination center doesn’t exactly help ease their fear. We thus began thinking about how we could make vaccination a more accessible and pleasant process. As many people in the city of Zurich had already been vaccinated, we thought we would try to reach those people who had not yet done so due to fear or because they were put off or overwhelmed by the registration process. The idea of the vaccination bus is that we now go to the people instead of waiting for them to come to us at the vaccination center.
And has the idea of getting closer to people with the bus worked?
Last Monday, when we stopped in front of the main building for the first time with the vaccination bus, there were already a few people waiting there who had heard about it – probably because they had heard about the queues at the vaccination centers at the beginning of the vaccination campaign and thought that the crowds would be the same at the bus. But that was not the case, no one had to wait. Most people arrived between 11am and 5.30pm. We would have carried on longer for people coming after work, but no one came after 5.30pm.
Do you find it frustrating that not more people came? After all, considerable logistics are involved in organizing a vaccination bus.
No. We never expected to attract huge crowds – quite a lot of people in the city center are already vaccinated anyway. We are happy about every person that comes. Each additional vaccinated person tips the scales in the right direction. In this way we are closing gaps. For example, a few people who are not employed or studying at UZH also came by. They were curious about what we were doing and appreciated the fact that they could get vaccinated without any hassle. The vaccination bus is aimed at UZH staff and students, but we vaccinate everyone who wants to.
Is it difficult to set up a vaccination bus?
Well, the amount of work involved is nearly as much as establishing a new vaccination center. Fortunately, we had already equipped vaccination buses for the Swiss-wide research project Corona Immunitas in 2020. So the remaining challenges were to put together a team of staff, acquire the necessary materials, and ensure the cold storage of the vaccine. We had to prove to the cantonal medicines authority that our refrigerator in the bus seamlessly guarantees the cold chain and that we carry out regular checks. Also, the staff must be trained and prepared for an emergency, then there’s the cleaning and disinfection – everything has to work in the vaccination bus exactly the same as in a vaccination center. It took a lot of effort to get it all done within 14 days, but the strict requirements give everyone involved the security they need.
Does a permanent team work in the bus?
The vaccination bus is staffed by a team of people who have been working together since last January and have a great deal of expertise: One nurse who prepares the vaccine, two nurses who vaccinate, a doctor for emergencies and questions, and a person for administrative tasks. Everyone is very committed and the atmosphere in the team is really great!
What will happen to the vaccination bus after it has been to UZH and ETH?
All municipalities, vocational schools and upper secondary schools can apply to the Health Department of the Canton of Zurich to host one of the canton’s four vaccination buses. Some places such as Wetzikon and Winterthur have already booked it.