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JTA working to improve access to Jacksonville vaccination sites

Agency explores ways to expand its routes and services as new vaccine clinics pop up

18 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in Jacksonville will begin administering doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to shoppers on Friday morning.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Walmart locations in Jacksonville start offering COVID-19 vaccines, public transportation officials are working to adjust routes to make sure people can get to their appointments.

Walmart is the latest in a line of government and business locations to open vaccine clinics in Jacksonville. In the last week, select Winn-Dixie and Harvey’s grocery stores have begun administering vaccines.

Since mid-January, the state-run vaccination clinic at Regency Square Mall has been the primary vaccination site in Duval County. Since Jan. 20, 25,420 shots, including some second doses, have been administered there.

RELATED: Where, how to get COVID-19 vaccines in Northeast Florida

Besides Regency and area businesses, small pop-up sites offering vaccinations have been established with the goal of providing vaccines to underserved areas on Jacksonville’s Northside.

Jaqueline Williams got her vaccine from a pop-up site at the Northside’s Clanzel Brown Senior Center. She said before Friday, when her neighborhood Walmart began offering vaccines, it was the first time she saw a vaccine clinic on her side of town.

“There was nothing on the Northside, nothing,” Williams told News4Jax. “You have people who are 65 and older on the Northside who don’t even have transportation to go to the other side of town.”

Since Jan. 27, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority has been taking steps to make sure the Regency vaccination site is accessible to those eligible to receive the vaccine. The agency began offering free rides to people ages 65 and up as well as frontline workers. A bus stop was also added to the front of the vaccination site.

According to JTA, 211 people have used the routes to get to the state-run vaccination site and 20 people used JTA services to get to the pop-up site on the Northside of Jacksonville last week. The agency said it’s also evaluating ways to expand services to cover the new retail vaccination sites at Walmart, Winn-Dixie and Harvey’s.

In a statement to News4Jax, JTA officials said they continue to work with the city and state partners “to ensure transportation is not a barrier to accessing a vaccine site.”

The Florida Department of Health reported Wednesday 42% of people 65 and up have received COVID-19 vaccinations in Duval County. In St. Johns, more than half of seniors (55 percent) are vaccinated.

If you need transportation to a vaccination site, visit health.jtafla.com

About the Author:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.