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How we’re helping older people and those who face barriers to vaccination.

You’ve likely heard about the community vaccine events we support. They help us quickly vaccinate large groups of people as we work to return Pierce County to normal! We know you are probably eager to get vaccinated and might be frustrated that you haven’t been able to schedule an appointment yet.

But our county is full of unique people and places, and we rely on unique approaches to reach them. 

Focused clinics improve vaccine access.

Some of our residents face barriers to vaccination that go beyond limited supply.

Some people don’t have easy access to transportation. Some don’t live near a population center. Others either don’t have access to the internet or aren’t experienced enough with it to be able to register for appointments. And still others face challenges with their vision, sight, hearing or mobility. For others, English is not their first language.

Recently, we began supporting small events to help people overcome these barriers. Rather than ask them to register online, we ask our community partners to reach out to people who could use a hand.

We piloted this approach with an event at Buckley Fire Station. It was geared toward vaccinating people 65 and older—many of the people were older than 80. Our partners went low tech to provide the personal touch. They reached out to people who might not have a computer, the internet or the email address usually required for registration.

The event was successful and helped us learn how we can continue to help the folks who really need it. Staff from Buckley Fire Department even delivered vaccines to a small number of homebound seniors!

The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive.

A woman in her 80s told us, “I just gave up and thought maybe I wasn’t meant to get one. This is a gift!”

Another woman in her 80s called in tears because she’d been so frustrated. “I’m so glad you did the Fire Department clinic!” she said. “We need another one!”

It went so well, in fact, we’ve since held events at Pacific Lutheran University, Asia Pacific Cultural Center, and First Creek Middle School to help people who face barriers to vaccination. We’ll continue to hold events like this in the months ahead.

Can we give you a ride? How about a call?

You might’ve noticed our community vaccination events are drive-through. That obviously won’t work for people who don’t own a car. And even reaching the nearest pharmacy or healthcare provider is a challenge for many.

We partnered with Pierce County Human Services and Around the Sound for a new program that will provide transportation to people facing mobility, financial or geographic barriers.

The program is still in the pilot stage, but we hope to make it available for more people soon.

We’re also adding capacity to our call center and planning for a higher volume of phone registration in the near future. Currently, our call center follows up with those who are having challenges with registration and second-dose appointments.

We are working to open phone registration for first dose appointments, too. This will help us expand options to people who may not find it convenient to sign up via online registration. We will continue to offer online registration as well.

Also, pharmacies can be a great option for many, and more of them are offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Check our website at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.

A healthcare worker takes information from a patient at a recent vaccine clinic in Buckley.