“There’s a greater humanity out there that I want to connect with and be a part of, especially in these times where humanity is really struggling.”

The U.S. Medical Reserve Corps is made up of volunteers, many of them trained in medicine or emergency preparedness, who are on hand to help their communities in times of crisis. Approximately 185,000 volunteers are part of 800 community-based MRC units across the country. They’re playing an important role in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout by helping get needles into people’s arms as quickly as possible.

Journalist Wudan Yan, writing for Elemental, takes readers inside the work of the MRCs at a vaccination center in Bainbridge Island, Washington. One volunteer is a nurse who administers the vaccines; another is a local pharmacist who put in the request for doses as soon as Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine was approved. A local management consultant built a simple iPad dashboard for tracking vaccinations.

Yan’s piece drives home the importance of mutual aid groups and community-based organizations during a national emergency — especially one in which federal support has faltered in so many ways. On Bainbridge Island, neighbors are vaccinating neighbors, and the volunteers account for every last vaccine dose so none are wasted. The hope is that other communities will be able to follow suit.

“We’ve become the model for how other towns and counties can basically establish their own medical reserve corps,” said Loren Bast, executive director of Bainbridge Island’s mutual aid group.

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