COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Central Ohio healthcare providers are hoping to improve access to the COVID-19 vaccine by bringing the shots directly to underserved communities.
Wednesday, St. Stephen’s Community House in Linden transformed its gymnasium into a pop-up vaccine clinic with PrimaryOne Health. Ohio National Guard members administered around 200 doses to patients who reserved appointments.
“[I was] a little bit nervous because you always hear rumors about the vaccine, about side effects but they were really nice, really helpful. They gave me all the information that I needed,” said Michel Garcia, who drove from Hilliard for his first dose of the vaccine.
The pop-up clinic targeted others who live, work and play in the Linden neighborhood, which some consider an underserved area of Columbus.
“We believe there’s a trust factor. We also believe that we want to make it convenient for folks. So they don’t have to get on a bus, they don’t have to take an Uber or a Lyft. They can just come straight down the street in their neighborhood,” explained PrimaryOne CEO Charleta Tavares. “We really wanted to focus in on underserved communities and communities of color.”
PrimaryOne operates a small neighborhood clinic inside of St. Stephen’s Community House. During the pandemic, the health provider consolidated its services to promote social distancing and recently began reopening its smaller sites.
Tavares said using its facilities with established community connections is key to fighting vaccine hesitancy and promoting access to the shot.
“This is a community center that has lots of history, and certainly trust, in the community. It’s well known,” she said. “You can talk to folks about the vaccine and why it’s important, not only for you and your family, but to protect the community at large.”
Since January, PrimaryOne Health has helped vaccinate more than 3,200 people in Central Ohio. It hosts weekly vaccine clinics at 4 Columbus locations and one site in Circleville. It also holds pop-up clinics on many weekends.
The vaccine clinics are by appointment only. You can check for available appointments texting VACCINE to 614-502-5329 or clicking on this link.