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COTA Launches Efforts To Transport People To COVID Vaccine Appointments

A COTA bus in downtown Columbus in May.
David Holm
A COTA bus in downtown Columbus in May.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority is launching two free initiatives to help underserved communities get to COVID-19 vaccination sites.

The Ohio Department of Health will establish a pop-up mass vaccination clinic at Ohio State University's St. John Arena, to which COTA will provide transportation March 18-21.

The site will be open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. those four days. People with scheduled vaccination appointments can call COTA Mainstream On-Demand (614-344-4488) to have a vehicle pick up them and transport them to St. John Arena, free of cost. Appointments must be made one hour in advance.

People who live on the South Side can use COTA/Plus (call 614-228-1776), an on-demand microtransit service, for transportation to the mass vaccination site. Funding for both of COTA's initiatives is provided by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

COTA also partnered with the nonpeofit organization Columbus Stand Up! to provide transportation to any Franklin County vaccination site, seven days a week, for free. COTA plans to continue this indefinitely, as long as there is a need for vaccination access in Columbus.

Currently, all Ohioans over the age of 50 are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, along with people in certain professions like teacher, first responder or corrections officer, and patients with qualifying medical conditions. On Friday, Ohio will expand eligibility to everyone age 40 and above, and to all residents over the age of 16 on March 29.

You can check your eligibility, and schedule a shot at a clinic near you, at Ohio's coronavirus website.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.