At-home and drive-thru vaccine clinics increase accessibility

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 10:47 PM EST
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WATERBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - A local nonprofit is making vaccinations more accessible for everyone.

The Vermont Center for Independent Living, or VCIL, started a program where people can set up appointments to get vaccinated at home. The program gives people with disabilities or those who just don’t feel comfortable going into a clinic the option to get a vaccine at home.

Staff at VCIL say they noticed a lack of vaccine availability this year, so they wanted to set up both these home appointments and a drive-thru vaccine clinic so anyone who wants the vaccine can get it.

VCIL Executive Director Sarah Launderville rolled up her sleeve Wednesday for our camera to get this year’s COVID shot. When launched, she says the phone rang off the hook for appointments. Anyone living in any part of the state can sign up. Less than a week in, more than 300 households are vaccinated.

“Calls from people who have cancer and don’t want to go to a pharmacy and be exposed more, they’re able to have somebody come right to their home and be in a safe environment,” said Launderville.

Others, like parents with kids who are immunocompromised or people over the age of 75, also phoned for an appointment.

Along with the in-home clinics, there are drive-thru ones run by the Waterbury Ambulance Service. Both provide doses of the new COVID shot and the flu shot.

“We found that people just weren’t getting access the way they were hoping to get access,” said Launderville.

Though there’s no age limit on the at-home appointments, the Waterbury Ambulance drive-thru vaccination clinics are only for those 6 months to 64 years old because they are part of the Vermont child and adult vaccine programs.

“Our hope is that people who have had appointments at pharmacies are able to cancel because we are able to do large numbers-- hundreds, close to a thousand at a time-- and hopefully that will free up appointments at the pharmacies because it’s so limited,” said Zach Arvin with Waterbury Ambulance Service.

Drive-thru clinics are offered at Waterbury Ambulance on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Waterbury Ambulance also brings clinics to schools and other organizations.

“There’s a challenge for access for different populations in the state, and being here for those populations is important to us,” said Maggie Burke with Waterbury Ambulance.

“Let’s try to figure out ways if you’re able to get a vaccination and you want a vaccination that you have access to that, and if there’s not an opportunity for access, then that becomes a problem,” said Launderville.

There are still appointments available for those who want to get an appointment at home.