Guilford County Health Director Iulia Vann said this week that the county is purchasing mobile medical vehicles that will be used to take the COVID-19 vaccination effort to the public. 

For the last two months, county residents seeking vaccinations have had to drive to sites to get inoculated.  However, in the coming months, that will change and the vaccinations will be taken into the community.

Vann said that the Guilford County Division of Public Health is purchasing three medical vans – one larger vehicle and two smaller ones.  The vehicles will be bought using federal funds given to the county to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  It’s not yet known how much Guilford County will spend on the three specialized vehicles.

Guilford County’s health workers are going to use the units to go into communities where many people remain unvaccinated.  The theory is that reluctant people will be more willing to get it if the vaccine comes to them and is given at a place they know.

Vann, who became Guilford County Health Director in early 2020, said the former mobile unit the county owned had been decommissioned years ago.

The former mobile medical unit was bought long before Vann came to Guilford County, but there’s an interesting story behind the health department’s first acquisition of that vehicle: The story of Marie B. Stanley.

Stanley’s husband passed away in 1997 and Stanley was convinced that –if the county had had a mobile medical unit that checked on nursing homes – her husband would have lived.   She went on a one-woman crusade for the county to purchase a mobile medical unit, and, for years, she came to nearly every meeting of the Guilford County commissioners and pleaded for the county to buy a mobile medical unit.

County health officials, for years, said that they appreciated Stanley’s verve and commitment, but they added that the county simply didn’t need a  mobile medical unit.

Finally, after years of asking at nearly every meeting, in 2003, Guilford County Commissioner Bob Landreth, now deceased, made the motion to put $115,000 in the budget for a mobile medical unit, making Stanley a happy camper for the remaining few years of her life.

The county’s old health department did get some use out of the unit, though Vann said the department was no longer had that vehicle and may have sold it years ago.