Mass vaccination sites should accommodate people without cars

Don’t leave out Coloradans who walk, bike or take public transportation to get a COVID vaccine

Hundreds of cars lined up for the UCHealth COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic in the Coors Field parking lot Jan. 30, 2021.(Andy Cross/The Denver Post, pool)

As the vaccine rollout continues in Colorado, it’s glaringly obvious that getting an appointment is made significantly easier by owning a car. From the images of driving-reliant sites, to the increased ability to drive to remote parts of the state to get unfilled appointments, to the ability to drive to pharmacies when extra doses are released, having a car is a boon to getting a vaccine.

This often leaves out some of the most vulnerable people, including economically disadvantaged workers, people with disabilities that restrict them from driving, and people who use public transportation and risk greater exposure.

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The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, counties, and local municipalities should step in to right this wrong as the race towards herd immunity continues.

This can take many different forms, including partnering with local transit authorities to provide free rides to vaccination sites, similar to what VIA Metropolitan Transit is currently doing in San Antonio, Texas, with providing round trips to vaccination sites. To supplement this, language and policy on CDPHE’s community vaccination site should also be changed to explicitly mention the ability to walk or bike up with an appointment, particularly in regards to sites close to transit and bicycle infrastructure, such as the future Ball Arena site in Denver. Wayfinding for pedestrians and people riding bicycles should also be clear to lessen confusion on arrival to the sites.

If CDPHE is serious about its commitment to its vaccines for all program, it must commit to vaccinating people without access to single-occupancy vehicles. Only then will all Coloradans be able to be vaccinated with ease, and lead us to the end of this pandemic.

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