COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–It’s been nearly two months since every adult in Ohio became eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, leading many to believe that those who want a vaccine have already gotten it.
Doctors at OSU Wexner Medical Center say that’s not the case. They say many barriers still prevent people from getting vaccinated, which is why the hospital launched its Community Vaccine Partners program.
Dr. Nicholas Kman still treats Covid patients in the emergency room at The Ohio State East Hospital. It’s now a part of his routine to ask Covid patients why they have not been vaccinated.
“They may be groups that have English as a second language,” Kman said. “They may be groups that aren’t great at navigating a smartphone or a computer. They may not have email addresses.”
Community Vaccine Partners works with local churches and non-profit organizations to reach out to unvaccinated community members and overcome barriers to get them a vaccine.
“I want to know why you don’t want to get vaccinated because there’s a reason,” said Jackiethia Butsch, who coordinates the community outreach effort. “Everybody has a story, everybody has a reason why. So I want to know why, and maybe you and I can work together to fix that.”
Butsch worked in the emergency room at East Hospital. She brought the idea for Community Vaccine Partners to her employer after members of her church told her they were struggling to get a vaccine appointment.
“Appointment times, not being able to navigate the phone number… we had 85-year-olds that did not know computers very well,” Butsch said.
Where Butsch and her family attend, Trinity Baptist Church is now one of many community vaccine partners across the Columbus area.
The program coordinates with COTA and Uber to provide transportation to vaccine appointments. Partners can also provide meals, child care, translators, religious accommodations, and appointments at odd hours to accommodate different needs, allowing hundreds of people to get vaccinated on designated clinic days.
“Those people that were in those seats – they had overcome something to get in those seats. That makes it so much more worth it when you see that,” Butsch said.
Those needing assistance with vaccination can call (614) 293-8000 and select the vaccination line option. Those who would like to become a community vaccine partner can call (614) 366-7566.