To improve vaccination access in neighborhoods with lower vaccination rates, Tarrant County Public Health plans to partner with Trinity Metro to provide on-site vaccinations in a bus.
Under the plan, a 60-foot designated vaccination bus would be dispatched to certain neighborhoods in the county and be able to provide community vaccination clinics.
Tarrant County Public Health director Vinny Taneja presented the plan to county commissioners this week adding that it would be up to the county to create the route.
“The goal is we’re going to look at communities with low vaccination rates, communities that are underserved, and communities that have transportation access issues,” he explained. “We’re still in the process of hiring our grant-funded folks, but the idea is we’ll have a community outreach team, door-knockers if you will. They might go and prime the area, walk and talk to people. Are you interested in getting vaccinated? What other questions can we answer for you? Then if people say, ‘Yes, that’s a great idea’…well, we got a bus right around the corner. Why don’t we get you vaccinated?”
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It will take time to implement the plan, Taneja said Tuesday. Laverne Campbell, director of Beth Eden Baptist Church’s health ministry, applauded the idea. Throughout the summer, the church operated as both a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site. They plan to reopen as a site next month to offer vaccine boosters.
“The reality is, is that people want to know if they have it, but [they're] not real sure if they want to take the vaccine to prevent it,” Campbell said.
The church is located in Fort Worth’s 76119 ZIP code. In the past four months, the area’s vaccination rate has increased from 37% to just over 40%, as of Thursday. In Tarrant County, 53% of all residents are fully vaccinated as of this week.
Campbell suggested Thursday, county health leaders should partner with the faith community regarding the vaccination bus.
“In every community whether the people that live in that community go to that church or not, if that church is in that community…they trust that church,” she said. “They trust the people that go there, so they’re more apt to visit a mobile unit if it is parked on a church parking lot or something like that versus a grocery store parking lot.”
Details on the program including when it could start and what neighborhoods would be prioritized are still in the works. As of this week, more than 3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Tarrant County.