Fall 2021

Drive to vaccinate

With philanthropic support, a new van is helping the Minnesota Immunization Networking Initiative deliver health services to more underserved communities


Minnesota communities have faced unprecedented challenges in the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated inequities in health care and health outcomes. 

So M Health Fairview community advancement teams called on the longstanding partnerships with faith-based and grassroots community organizations that have built the foundation of its Minnesota Immunization Networking Initiative (MINI) and got to work. 

The MINI team, which has provided vaccinations to people in BIPOC communities, non-English speakers, and uninsured Minnesotans for 15 years, quickly took COVID-19 testing and vaccines into metro-area neighborhoods. A new partnership with COPAL, a nonprofit serving Minnesota’s Latinx community, has helped MINI vaccinate Latinx workers outstate as well. 

Thanks to a deep discount from Luther Auto and a donation from the Luther Family Foundation, the team was able to purchase a van that has made their grassroots mobile-health efforts easier. 

“We work with communities experiencing multiple health care barriers,” explains Ingrid Johansen of M Health Fairview community clinical care. “This van allows us to stretch our work further and make even more connections with underserved communities throughout Minnesota.” 

Since January, MINI has administered more than 27,000 COVID-19 vaccines at 230-plus community clinics. Now they’re restocking the van with influenza vaccine supplies, too, and hitting the road again. Johansen says the van also will help with their oral health and hepatitis screening efforts in the future.

Along the way, these mobile clinics also provide rich learning opportunities for students studying social work, medicine, dentistry, dental hygiene, and nursing. 

“This van is a powerful new tool for us,” Johansen says, “helping us stay innovative and nimble, adaptable to community needs. The sky’s the limit when it comes to how we’ll be able to grow our outreach to provide services to our neighbors.”