AKRON, Ohio — As the COVID-19 vaccination effort continues, the focus has shifted from mass clinics to targeted events for people in underserved communities.
Summit County Public Health is teaming up with Akron METRO to reach those people with a series of pop-up vaccine clinics.
The goal is to reach people who may be hesitant about getting the vaccine, or have issues related to access.
“I don't like needles. I don't do needles. I don’t like needles,” said James Crumbley of Akron.
A fear of how those vaccines are administered was enough to keep Crumbley away until Friday.
“Well, what brought me here is I had to catch the bus to the other side of town. I ain’t know nothing about this,” Crumbley said. “So I was here waiting on the bus, and I seen this setup right here, so I decided to come check it out.”
During his travels, Crumbley stumbled upon a pop-up vaccination clinic at the Akron METRO transit station downtown.
“We think there's 40-50% vaccination rates in different places that you are, but do you see the other, you know, 50-60% of people still wearing masks and you're not,” said Erika Sobolewksi, medical director for SCPH.
Sobolewski said the health department’s focus has shifted from volume to reaching people who might not have been able to access other vaccination opportunities, like their drive-thru clinics.
“Every day is a new initiative, a new demographic and a new population to try to reach,” Sobolewski said.
Friday’s clinic is the second at the transit station.
Last month, 88 people got vaccinated.
And to make the offer even more attractive to folks, those shots came with a Giant Eagle gift card and a 7-day bus pass from Akron METRO.
It was a welcome surprise to Crumbley.
“I could definitely use that because I'm unemployed. I got a house note, I got taxes to pay. So, this helped me,” he said.
It was also a welcome gift for Jermaine Roberson, who got his first dose of the Moderna vaccine Friday.
“It's good because you might need it, it might come in handy in case you want to go somewhere, especially to get to work and from work,” said Roberson, of Akron.
Seventeen-year-old Emma Barna is a fan of the incentives, but she had other reasons for getting her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“I think it's really important to make sure that you're safe and also you're protecting those around you,” Barna said.
Crumbley opted for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
It's a one and done, so there’s no need to worry about any more needles, but he said it wasn’t even that bad.
“When it comes to a vaccine, I don't like needles, but that was nothing. I didn't even hardly feel it.”
SCPH isn't sure when they'll be returning to the transit center for another pop-up clinic, but they will be vaccinating folks at Joy Park Community Center between noon and 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 19.
Also, the department hosts vaccine clinics every Wednesday at its headquarters. More information can be found here.
Akron METRO has provided more than 1,200 free rides to vaccine appointments and clinics since March 29. More information about how to schedule a free ride can be found here.
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
Download the News 5 app for free to easily access local coronavirus coverage, and to receive timely and limited news alerts on major COVID-19 developments. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.
See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.
Vaccinating Ohio - Find the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccines, Ohio's phased vaccination process, a map of vaccination clinics around the state, and links to sign up for a vaccination appointment through Ohio's online portal.
See data visualizations showing the impact of coronavirus in Ohio, including county-by-county maps, charts showing the spread of the disease, and more.
Rebound Northeast Ohio News 5's initiative to help people through the financial impact of the coronavirus by offering one place to go for information on everything available to help and how to access it. We're providing resources on:
Getting Back to Work - Learn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.
Making Ends Meet - Find help on topics from rent to food to new belt-tightening techniques.
Managing the Stress - Feeling isolated or frustrated? Learn ways to connect with people virtually, get counseling or manage your stress.
Doing What's Right - Keep track of the way people are spending your tax dollars and treating your community.
We're Open! Northeast Ohio is place created by News 5 to open us up to new ways of thinking, new ways of gathering and new ways of supporting each other.
View a map of COVID-19 testing locations here.
Visit Ohio's Coronavirus website for the latest updates from the Ohio Department of Health.
View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.