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Vaccine efforts continue to reach 'those who have the least'
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Vaccine efforts continue to reach 'those who have the least'

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Katina Howard, outreach coordinator for the Rappahannock Area Health District, wonders if vaccine interest has decreased because people don’t know they’re eligible for it.

“Sometimes I think we overestimate who’s in the know about information,” she said.

Reggie Underwood, chairman of the Caroline County Board of Supervisors, believes that’s especially true in a rural locality like his where there’s limited broadband access and no county newspaper.

“We don’t have a way of getting mass information to our community, and I think that hurts our community,” he said. “With all the negative information about vaccinations and things that have happened, it really is kind of a perfect storm.”

The local health district has had a vaccination clinic at the Caroline Community Center, but eventually will close it and funnel Caroline residents to drive-thru clinics at Dominion Speedway, over the Spotsylvania County line in Thornburg. More people can be served there in a clinic than in the two previous Spotsylvania and Caroline clinics, health officials said.

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Underwood did not appreciate that decision because it forces some people in the southern part of Caroline, which he represents, to drive up to 40 minutes to get a vaccine. There’s no public transportation in the county, which he says is the most rural locality along Interstate 95.

“For me, it speaks again to not doing the most we can for those who have the least,” Underwood said.

Howard said she’s looking at more special population clinics like a drive-thru event that was held April 24 at Second Mount Zion Baptist Church in Caroline, close to the border of Hanover County. About 180 people got their second dose of the vaccine at the event, one of seven special clinics held by the health district.

More are in the works. A drive-thru clinic offering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is planned Wednesday in Caroline. It’s from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Virginia Bazaar, 436 Ladysmith Road, Ruther Glen.

Others in coming weeks will address specific needs such as in Fredericksburg, where there’s a higher refugee population, or in pockets of North Stafford that are more remote, Howard said.

Meanwhile, those who want to be vaccinated and have no trouble navigating the system can find appointments at doctors’ offices and drug stores, grocery stores and hospitals. Health districts will continue to focus their efforts on those who can’t do that for a variety of reasons, Howard said.

“Our job is to look at those underserved communities that may not have the accessibility, may not have the privilege, may not have the opportunity and access, whether it’s broadband, transportation or just the fact that this whole process is overwhelming,” she said.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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