As more doses of the COVID-19 vaccines become available, one of the biggest challenges in the rollout will be getting them to everyone who needs a shot—particularly people who might not have transportation to easily get to a mass-vaccination center.
A new mobile vaccination unit is designed to help. “We’re not making people come to the vaccine distribution areas as much as we’re bringing the vaccine to where they are,” says Rod Keller, CEO of Ayro, the company that designed the new vehicle.
The vehicle runs on electricity, so it doesn’t add to local air pollution that can in turn make people more susceptible to COVID-19. It can legally drive on residential streets, and could stop in a parking lot to create a temporary vaccine clinic as patients walk or drive up for a shot. But because it doesn’t pollute, it can also drive directly into a school gym or another indoor vaccination site. (It’s also much narrower than a typical truck, to help it fit into indoor spaces.)
Ayro modified an electric vehicle (EV) design that previously has been used outside college dining halls to serve food. The basic truck is essentially the same, but now has medical-grade, ultra-low-temperature freezer and fridge units with sensors that can track conditions to make sure the vaccines inside are safely stored. It also has mobile sinks and medical-grade storage. The freezer and fridge are designed to run on batteries, like the EV itself, but the vehicle can also plug into a standard outlet if one is available.
The company, along with its distribution partner Element Fleet Management, is now demonstrating the vehicle for potential customers. “State, local, and federal entities really can use this to get vaccines in arms faster than they we’re doing it today,” says Keller.