“Get a Ride” to get Missouri residents to vaccine appointments
Southwest Missouri – Missouri launches a new transportation resource guide to expand COVID-19 vaccine access to rural, suburban and urban communities.
The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) launches “Get a Ride” to help address barriers to COVID-19 vaccine access. It can be found at MOStopsCovid.com/ride. You can find information for southwest Missouri here.
The Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution helped the DHSS with the project.
The “Get a Ride” guide gives free and low-cost transportation resources so residents can get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“In Missouri, we recognize there is a significant amount of older adults, people with disabilities and low-income individuals who are at higher risk of contracting the virus and don’t have cars, don’t drive, don’t live near public transit and live in rural areas far from vaccination sites,” said Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID Vaccine Distribution Co-Chair Sara Hart Weir. “Throughout our Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution meetings and discussions, access to affordable transportation kept coming up as a barrier to achieve equitable vaccine access. The goal of “Get a Ride” is to provide a comprehensive resource for Missourians to access free transportations in your local community to receive your COVID-19 vaccine.”
“Get a Ride” is now embedded throughout every aspect of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout infrastructure including the state’s COVID-19 hotline, MOstopsCovid.com, and through Missouri’s Regional Implementation Teams. You can customize the resources by location (region and county) for each vaccine event and site.
About the Providers
OATS and SMTS
Some providers, such as OATS and SMTS, normally serve older adults and individuals with disabilities. Now, they can help anyone in their service area with vaccination transportation.
“OATS is happy to be able to provide transportation to vaccination sites for individuals living in rural areas,” said Dorothy Yeager, OATS Transit Executive Director. “Since the first of March, OATS has provided over 480 trips to vaccination sites and the demand continues to grow. OATS looks forward to everyone getting fully vaccinated so that we can get back to normal. OATS will continue to provide this service in the rural communities where they have available vehicles and drivers.”
Ginny Smith, SMTS’ Director of Operations, added, “As the nation continues to recover from COVID-19, SMTS stays committed to helping Missourians as vaccines become available. Transportation should be the last worry when scheduling your appointment for your COVID-19 vaccine. Please contact your local SMTS location and let us assist you. Together, we all will continue to recover ‘Show Me Strong.'”
Area Agencies on Aging
The Area Agencies on Aging is also helping caregivers of older adults to help them get to vaccine appointments.
“Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging, ma4, indicates a key impediment to independence is access to transportation. Missouri’s Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) service every county in Missouri and provide reliable transportation, over 879,000 rides in 2020, for all of life’s needs to ensure older adults and individuals with disabilities have access to transportation,” said Ann McGruder, Executive Director, Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
Most of the transportation providers are able to provide this service at no cost. HealthTran offers reduced costs to their participants who book through them for transportation to a vaccine appointment.
MRHA’s HealthTran staff works with communities to assess their current transportation options. They help link community partners to resources that enhance their ability to increase transportation options.
Lyft and Uber are not free or discounted in Missouri. Officials will add more transportation options to MOStopsCovid.com/ride as they become available.