RICHMOND, Va. -- "Everybody ends up winning," is the goal for Jackie Lawrence. For her, winning means vaccinating communities in Central Virginia fairly against COVID-19.
Her job as the Health Equity Director for the Richmond-Henrico Health Districts is to make sure that happens.
"It's making accommodations for groups of people who need it, and then it ends up benefiting everybody else," said Lawrence. "Everybody ends up winning."
It takes a multi-faceted approach to ensure equity, and one thing that still stands in the way is getting people to and from their vaccine appointments.
"Many of our communities don't have access to reliable transportation," Lawrence explained.
She went on to say a lack of transportation is an even greater problem in low-income neighborhoods which data shows have been hit hardest by the coronavirus.
In an effort to offer a solution, health officials teamed up with GRTC to make sure everyone has a ride to get vaccinated.
Right now, GRTC's fixed bus routes connect people to three of the district's largest mass vaccination sites at no cost.
Those clinics are located at the Arthur Ashe Center, Richmond Raceway, and George Wythe High School on the city's southside.
"So if you are near a GRTC bus stop then you don't have to worry about paying your fare," said Carrie Rose Pace, a spokesperson for GRTC.
GRTC also launched a new program that will take folks to their appointments on demand.
The health district utilizes community leaders to identify people without transportation and then connects them to rides.
"They help pick up people on short notice and take them to and from destinations," said Pace. "The good news is that mobility does not have to be a barrier to you getting to your vaccine appointment."
"It's kind of like an Uber for GRTC," said Lawrence.
The program is made possible throughUZURZ and funding from the CARES Act.
If you haven't been connected to the program through a community partner, you can call the Richmond-Henrico Health Districts' call center at 804-205-3501 to coordinate.
For those outside Richmond and Henrico, rideshare company Lyft offers a program where users can book a free ride to a vaccine appointment or buy one for someone else. You can learn more about it here: https://www.lyft.com/vaccine-access
Additionally, the organization Senior Connections offers rides to people 60 and older across the region.