ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Residents who live in rural communities in Etowah County now have a new way to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they lack transportation. The county has launched a transportation bus for residents to use free of charge.
All people have to do is call 256-547-1014 and you will be picked up and taken to any vaccine location in the county and dropped back off. The program launched a week ago and so far the county has not had good participation from the community.
This comes as Etowah County is above the average statewide for confirmed COVID-19 positive tests. Right now at least 37 percent of Etowah County residents have taken at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
As the state continues to get vaccinated Dr. Karen Landers with the Health Department says they have to target different initiatives to see vaccinations go up.
“Look within the local communities to see what the needs are. Some communities have a good transportation network or have less problems with persons accessing services,” Dr. Karen Landers, Alabama Department of Public Health, said. “Again depending on where vaccines are located. I think we still have to look at our local leadership within those communities and have them work within the context of what is best for their citizens.”
County leaders say they have high hopes for the programs expansion in the future while wanting to ensure everyone has equal access to the vaccine.
“We are always looking to expand our service currently we have the number of drivers to be able to accommodate the traffic that we need it for but if we have added request for transportation and we see we can accommodate people we are interested in hiring new drivers,” Lora Weaver, Director of Transportation Etowah County, said.
To ensure everyone’s safety all drivers and bus riders will be required to wear a facial covering. Sanitizing also takes place on the bus and wipes are available for use as well.
Safety is a priority on the bus with masks required to be worn. Sanitizing will happen throughout the day and wipes will be given out to people to wipe their surfaces. Etowah County has funding to keep this program operational at least until September of 2022.