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THD, Tulsa Transit Partner On Program Offering Free Rides To Bus Passengers Who Get Vaccinated

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Pool photo by Mike Simons / Tulsa World
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The Tulsa Health Department and Tulsa Transit have teamed up on a new idea to improve COVID-19 vaccine access.

Tulsa Transit riders who get vaccinated at one of three THD locations can show their bus ticket and get a free 10-day pass after their first dose and a one-day pass after their second dose. Manager of Emergency Preparedness and Response Alicia Etgen said six months into the vaccination effort, THD is still finding barriers to address.

"And so, we want to break down any of those barriers and allow people an opportunity to utilize public transportation to — at no cost to themselves — to be able to get into the vaccination center," Etgen said.

The bus pass program is offered at the North Regional Health and Wellness Center at 5635 N Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Central Regional Health Center at 315 S Utica Ave., and the Community Vaccination Center at Tulsa Community College’s Northeast Campus at 3727 E Apache St. Appointments are required at the health centers; information is available at vaccinate918.com. The Community Vaccination Center is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and no appointment is required.

Tulsa Transit Lift customers can call to reserve free rides to vaccination clinics.

Etgen said 36% of Tulsa County residents 12 and up are fully vaccinated, and 44% have received at least one dose. Those rates are higher than the state average, but Etgen said THD is still trying to address vaccine refusal, vaccine hesitancy and lack of access.

"So, we’re reaching out to the people who are hesitant by putting good information out there — incredible information out there — for them to make their decision based on science and data and not other avenues. And then if access is a problem, then we’re filling that gap by providing all of these opportunities for the accessibility," Etgen said.

THD has previously used Caring Vans for mobile clinics that bring vaccines to underserved communities, along with organizing vaccination clinics in partnership with trusted organizations.

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