COVID vaccine, testing sites still working to provide free resources to Phoenix area

PCR tests were available at a mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination event Sept. 20, 2021 at Isaac Middle School in Phoenix. Patients receive their results via email. (Photo by Kasey Brammell/Cronkite News)

People line up at Isaac Middle School in west Phoenix for a COVID-19 vaccinations and testing mobile event Sept. 20, 2021. Those with appointments and walk-ups were taken. (Photo by Kasey Brammell/Cronkite News)

Rapid COVID-19 tests were available at mobile COVID-19 vaccination and testing event Isaac Middle School in west Phoenix with results given within 15-20 minutes. (Photo by Kasey Brammell/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Despite the COVID-19 vaccination rate decreasing, mobile testing and vaccination sites are still happening and being met with success across the Phoenix metro area.

In association with the city of Phoenix, Vincere Cancer Center is offering free rapid antigen and antibody COVID-19 tests, as well as PCR tests at various locations. On Monday the cancer center’s mobile van made its way to Isaac Middle School in west Phoenix to host a six-hour event.

The site also administered COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, providing Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Rob McDade, captain and public information officer with the Phoenix Police Department, said these events make it easier for community members to get the resources they need to combat COVID-19.

“We’re eliminating excuses,” he said. “The best part about this is there’s no reservations needed, you don’t have to sign up. You walk up … in 10 minutes, we’ll have you signed up and we’re gonna have your vaccination.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, more than 7.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered with 57.4% of Arizonans vaccinated.

The event offered both PCR and rapid antigen COVID-19 testing for free by walk-in and appointment, regardless of insurance status.

Abriel Cleaver said she gets tested regularly for COVID-19.

“I do go around kids pretty often so I just want to make sure I’m keeping them safe,” she said. “I want to make sure if I need to quarantine, I will.”

Cleaver said testing and vaccination events are “a resource that’s definitely needed.”

“A lot of people, they don’t have the access to get testing sometimes, I definitely think it’s helping the community a lot,” she said.

People line up at Isaac Middle School for a COVID-19 vaccination and testing mobile event. (Photo by Kasey Brammell/Cronkite News)

Natalie Williams, a mother who lives in Phoenix, said she is getting tested to do her part in making sure those around her are safe and healthy.

She said her son has already been sick twice since school started, and free events like these help her and her family know if they need to quarantine or isolate.

“Having someone here, offering these tests for free, allowing people to make appointments when they can and walk up when they can is so important because everyone is just trying to keep everybody else safe at this point,” Williams said. “It’s the best possible option to make sure that people are aware if they are sick and what they need to do in case they are.”

The mobile event also offered free antibody testing.

Jennifer Bittner, Phoenix firefighter EMT, is a volunteer who was involved in the site’s antibody testing and called it “a simple process.”

She said the antibody test uses a person’s blood to see if they have any trace of two types of COVID-19 antibodies.

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Bittner said that these tests help community members have “a little bit of relief,” whether they are vaccinated or not by letting them know if they have antibodies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still advises those who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Not a lot of people can get to their doctors – to get into other places is hard,” she said. “This is free, this is easy. You make an appointment and you show up and you’re done in about 30 minutes.”

McDade said these preventative measures are meant to aid the community’s public safety.

“We can’t just sit by and wait for the lights to come on and go to an emergency; we have to be preventative,” McDade said. “We teach people about smoke alarms, we teach people about how to wear your seatbelt … well this is exactly that but in a pandemic. We’re telling them please get vaccinated, please get tested.”

McDade said locations for mobile COVID-19 vaccine and testing sites come via community member requests or through a need to serve certain communities.

“We try to make it happen the best we can,” he said. “As many times as we’re asked, if we can accomplish that, if we have the personnel, we’re gonna be there.”

Vincere Cancer Center will be holding additional testing and vaccination events through the remainder of the month.

Olivia Munson(she/her)
News Reporter, Phoenix

Olivia Munson expects to graduate in spring 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in women and gender studies. Munson, who has reported for the D.C. Bureau, Times Media Group, The State Press and The Arizona Republic, is working in the Phoenix News Bureau.

Kasey Brammell(she/they)
News Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Kasey Brammell expects to graduate in December 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in special events management. Brammell, who has worked at Arizona PBS and the Cronkite School, was a research intern in California. Brammell is working in the Phoenix News Bureau.