ST. LOUIS – Long drives to vaccination sites may keep people from getting the vaccine and could widen the already-significant health disparities between those who have transportation and those who don’t.
The Urban League of St. Louis has brought the vaccines to residents of senior apartment complexes. However, for seniors who may not live in those settings and may not have access to transportation, it would be difficult to drive for hours to a vaccination site.
“We are offering free rides to get vaccines because we absolutely recognize the need,” Executive Director of Oats, Inc. Dorothy Yeager said. “The more people that get the vaccine, the sooner we can get back normal.”
But, those free rides by Oats transit to rural areas from the St. Louis area are not available.
The non-profit transportation corporation headquartered in Columbia, Mo. said it does not receive enough funding in the St. Louis area to off set costs for those trips so their service is only local by contract.
“We have contracts with various local agencies to provide services to their clients in the St. Louis market,” Yeager said. “Now obviously if some of those partners came to us, we would assist them in getting their clientele to vaccination sites absolutely.”
Oats transit said it is offering free rides to residents in rural areas who have to travel a long distance to other rural areas for the vaccine.