COVID Care-A-Van provides information, vaccines to underserved Akron neighborhoods

COVID Care-A-Van provides information, vaccines to underserved Akron neighborhoods
Posted at 10:16 PM, May 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-29 23:11:26-04

AKRON, Ohio — As we inch closer to the goal of herd immunity, getting COVID-19 vaccinations and information about vaccines to underserved communities is more important than ever.

Saturday, caregivers with Cleveland Clinic Akron General and other local organizations traveled around the city for an event called the COVID Care-A-Van.

“We're really talking about myths and facts today. We think the facts are really important. Accuracy is really important,” said Dr. Debbie Plate, a physician at Cleveland Clinic Akron General.

The COVID Care-A-Van is part of the Know COVID campaign funded by the GAR Foundation in collaboration with other community partners including the Summit Lake CDC, South Street Ministries, Akron Urban League, Love Akron and more.

It aims to provide accurate information about COVID-19 and the vaccines directly to neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

“This is critical. We don't easily get to some of these communities. So being here is huge,” Plate said.

The Care-A-Van -- a caravan of vehicles -- traveled to three underserved Akron neighborhoods, offering not just information, but also food, music and even vaccines themselves administered by Summit County Public Health.

Nick Stecyk came all the way from Tallmadge to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“There ain't nothing bad about it. I mean, it's not going to kill you. Be safe than sorry,” said Stecyk.

He’s not the only one who decided to roll up their sleeve and get the shot.

“We've already done six vaccinations in South Akron, which is more than I even thought we'd accomplish today. So I'm over the moon,” said Joe Tucker, the executive director of South Street Ministries.

Tucker said outreach events like these are key to driving up vaccination rates.

“It's valuable to talk to someone that's a professional that comes to your neck of the woods and says, ‘Hey, we care about you, we'll listen to you,’” said Tucker. “The initial thought throughout the pandemic was ‘We're in this together.’ And one of the themes we've had as we planned this event was, ‘We're still in this together.’”

Akron General said the Care-A-Van is one of the ways it is addressing health disparities through its Neighbor to Neighbor campaign.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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