OAKLAND – A key challenge in distributing COVID-19 vaccines is ensuring that the most vulnerable in our community have adequate access. Some may be interested in the vaccine, but do not have transportation to a clinic. Others simply do not know how to sign up for the vaccine, or do not have a computer to search for appointments.
To help reach these vulnerable populations, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland has partnered with several community organizations, including Lighthouse Oakland County, Forgotten Harvest, Freedom Road Transportation, and Faith Community Nursing.
On April 5, 2021, St. Joe’s Oakland hosted a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for vulnerable populations, and distributed nonperishable food from Forgotten Harvest to participants. SJMO’s Community Health and Wellbeing team was able to pre-register 95 individuals. SJMO also partnered with Freedom Road Transportation to provide transportation at no cost to attendees.
“We serve seniors, people with disabilities, and low income populations,” said Karen Boice, Executive Director of Freedom Road Transportation. “These are people that have no access to public transportation or are unable to use it. Our program is provided at no cost. It’s important because people who are isolated, disabled or senior need access to transportation so that they can be social, access basic needs and stay healthy.”
SJMO held a second vaccine clinic on May 3 at Mercy Place. Again, participants received a free box of non-perishable food and transportation assistance as needed. Roughly 55 individuals were served at this clinic with a high turnout from the local Hispanic community. Second dose vaccines of Moderna were distributed June 2 at Mercy Place Clinic. St. Joe’s Oakland is now also accepting walk-ins for COVID-19 vaccines from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on days the clinic is open.
Helping vulnerable populations get access to vaccines is crucial, as these groups face higher risks of complications or death if they contract COVID-19. St. Joe’s Oakland is proud to work with local partners to help address the needs of the most vulnerable in our community, and is excited to continue these efforts.