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Overcoming barriers; free transportation offered to vaccine sites

Updated: May. 23, 2021 at 4:30 PM EDT
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(Editor’s note: This story was originally published May 6, 2021 at 3:56 PM CDT - Updated May 6 at 4:52 PM on www.wbrc.com)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Great Health Divide) - Alabama health leaders are looking at a variety of ways to help people to get vaccinated. The shots are free and if you live in Jefferson County, you can get a free ride to certain vaccination sites.

The FEMA vaccination site at Watermark Place in Bessemer could provide a thousand shots a day. But since it opened two weeks ago, the site has averaged about 200 people a day.

“It has slowed down a lot. Like it has across most of the state and country. We are concerned about that. We are trying to remove all the barriers to get vaccinated and we are trying to encourage people to get vaccinated,” Dr.. Mark Wilson, Jefferson County Health Officer said.

One of those barriers is transportation. If you contact the Jefferson County Health Department of Health they will provide free transportation.

“Right now we are trying to pull more people into vaccine sites. We are trying to open up more community sites and give more rides closer to people’s homes and they are more comfortable taking a vaccine shot within their community,” Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson said.

The free rides depend where you live in the county. Bus service is available with BJCTA, Clastran rides are available. Uber and Lyft are providing free coupons for rides. Even Yellow cab.

The free ride program started in April. Tyson said 200 have taken advantage of the program. “We had a lady in West End. She did not have transportation. She needed a ride to a vaccine site. We provided the ride,” Tyson said.

Dr. Wilson hoped to see more people take advantage of the program.

“They are available to the general public and the underserved populations. If it’s one of those sites, people can call the call center and ask for transportation,” Wilson said.

The JCDH call center number is 1-205-858-2221. This will be for one of the major vaccination sites with UAB, the FEMA site in Bessemer. or other sites, not commercial pharmacies.

Great Health Divide is an initiative addressing health disparities in the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia funded in part by the Google News Initiative.

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