RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Transportation remains a key barrier for some people trying to get their COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina, but $2.5 million in funding coming from the state is supposed to help address the problem.
Back in January, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Department of Transportation announced a partnership that would help get people to their vaccine appointments for free.
“When we are thinking of a state government holistically on how we can ensure people have access to the vaccine, DOT obviously has a prominent role to solve that transportation issue,” explained Ryan Brumfield, Interim Director of NCDOT Integrated Mobility Division.
Thousands of dollars were distributed to more than 80 agencies and counties to provide free rides.
On the list are Wake County, GoDurham in Durham County and Orange County.
Wake County received $101,930. GoDurham in Durham County received $41,460Orange County received $27,403
Each county and its agencies provided a breakdown of how the funding is being utilized so far.
In Wake County, GoWake is currently using funding for shuttle services to the PNC Arena Vaccination Site.
GoWake also provides free door-to-door vaccination trips for people that receive Medicaid, are age 60 years or older, disabled, or living in the rural areas of the County.
In Orange County, when someone schedules an appointment with the Health Department for a COVID-19 vaccine and needs a ride the Orange County Public Transportation reaches out to schedule the appointment.
They also offer door to door pickups. So far, five people have utilized this service.
GoDurham recently began accepting reservations for free rides to vaccination sites. To date, four trips have been completed.
GoDurham ACCESS provides curb-to-curb and door-to-door upon request, transportation services for eligible riders. Riders can call 919-560-1552 at least 24 hours in advance to schedule their ride.
In a statement from GoDurham, those utilizing this service may share rides with other people.
When they call to schedule a ride, they should have proof of appointment and the name of the vaccination center ready.
Brumfield said DOT doesn’t mandate or require how the services are provided.
“It’s based on the services that are available in the area and what the local transit agencies determine is best for their customers,” Brumfield said.
He said ultimately is about eliminating key barriers for people who need to get to their vaccine appointments.
“Our goal is to make sure everyone has equal access to vaccines.”