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Alachua County Working To Expand Vaccine Access To Underserved Communities

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

COVID-19 vaccinations are underway in Alachua County, and officials are working with the community to try to increase accessibility in the vaccine administration process.

As the vaccines begin to roll out, officials and community advocates were looking to expand access to under-served communities. Alachua County Fire Rescue launched the Community Health Team earlier this year to help deliver vaccines to homebound seniors.

Alachua County Fire Rescue Emergency Medical Services Chief Michael Cowart said about 134 people have been fully vaccinated through the Community Health Team so far, while about 94 more are in the process of receiving both doses.

The program has been labor-intensive, but the team has been able to meet demand so far, Cowart said.

“You know, we’re trying to gain support with the county commissioners and so far it’s been an extremely positive experience. It just takes staff and you know, that’s something that, trying to increase the staffing levels, you know, it’s difficult, especially when you’re in the infancy of your program.”

County commissioners said they would be open to helping expand the program. Commissioner Mary Alford said staffing is the current limitation.

Commissioner Ken Cornell said the county is working with the community to make vaccinations accessible to under-served communities through initiatives like scheduled vaccination clinics at local churches.

“We will hopefully be scheduling clinics in their area so we can bring the vaccinations to them.”

Groups like the Rural Women's Health Project are also pushing for access by translating COVID-19 information for non-English speakers and working with the health department to host vaccination events for eligible Spanish speakers.

Valeriya is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.