TAMPA, Fla. — Not only is vaccine eligibility expanding, but local officials and healthcare workers are doing their best to also expand vaccine sites, in an effort to get to people who are unable to come to them.
USF Health started a pilot program that kicked off last weekend, with the hopes of achieving a more equitable vaccine distribution.
On Friday afternoon, around 35 people lined up at the International Longshoremen’s Association in Tampa to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There were some of us that said, when the vaccine came, we wouldn’t do it,” said Andre Davis, V.P., of the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1402.
It was a change in mindset as the virus spread.
“We’ve had at least 12 to 15 members that contracted the virus,” said Davis.
But it was also a trust in Andre Davis, who helped coordinate the mobile vaccine event for his union members.
“When we find a group like the Longshoremen and we have a coordinator that we can work with, they help us to sign them up and get them registered through the Florida shots program, and then we bring the people in to come and vaccinated,” said Dr. Kevin Sneed, Dean of the Tenaja College of Pharmacy at USF.
Dr. Sneed started this new pilot program with the help of USF’s colleges of nursing, medicine, pharmacy and public health. Their goal is to achieve a more equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We need to make sure we can get into the community and meet people where they are. Continuing to expect that they will have WiFi or transportation or other means to get out to a site that may be 10, 12, 15 miles away, may not be attainable for many people,” said Dr. Sneed.
Now they’re working to identify community coordinators to find places like the International Longshoremen’s Association in areas where it’s harder for people to make it to a vaccine site. Ensuring everyone gets a shot at a vaccination if they want it.
“When they leave here and go to work, and they go into the unknown, workers that are coming in on the ships, we wanted the workers to feel safe when they go out there,” said Davis.