JTA uses retrofitted buses to bring vaccines to Jacksonville senior facility

Agape Family Health provided the vaccines that came from the allotment for Edward Waters College

Agape Family Health provided the vaccines that came from the allotment for Edward Waters College

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Seniors and people with disabilities in Jacksonville lined up Friday to be vaccinated outside their government high-rise.

A non-profit health center helping run a state vaccination clinic offered to give shots to hundreds of seniors living there after News4Jax reported the state had no plans of holding a vaccine clinic at any of the Jacksonville housing properties serving seniors.

It’s not hard to tell why the people living there had trouble getting to vaccination sites. There were at least three people who had to have people come to their rooms to get shots. Some residents are seeing-impaired and many are in wheelchairs.

Two retrofitted city buses acted as mobile vaccination clinics for the residents. Maschelle McCoy, 64, says without the outreach program she wouldn’t be able to get a shot.

“Oh God, catching buses and then having to find and look for the place. Right here is very convenient,” McCoy said. “All I had to do was come out of my apartment and come downstairs.”

More than a week ago, the Florida Division of Emergency Management said it held vaccine clinics inside 154 HUD senior facilities, including 10 in Jacksonville. But the Jacksonville Housing Authority said its senior housing was not included in the effort. JHA houses more than 700 seniors.

Mia Jones is the CEO of Agape Family Health, a nonprofit health center assisting in running a state vaccination clinic on Jacksonville’s Northside. Jones said after seeing reports she offered to vaccinate hundreds of seniors living on JHA properties.

“I will tell you that I was disappointed to know that we had seniors that were not taken care of in that first round push,” Jones said. I said let me call them and let them know we are here for you and we will make sure your residents have what they need.”

Seniors say without the clinic at the senior high rise many would not get vaccinated.

“For all the people who told me they wouldn’t take it – and look at it – all of them are out here. Now I feel a lot safer,” said resident Otis Bess Jr.

The doses are coming out of the state allotment given to the Edward Waters College vaccine location. This week, that site had an issue with low turnout.

The mobile buses are the first of their kind in the state. Jacksonville Transportation Authority spent more than a week getting it together.

The CEO of Agape says it will do more senior properties like this and also schools.

About the Author:

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