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‘It was pleasant’: Durham non-profit providing free rides to COVID-19 vaccination appointments

As more Durham residents get vaccinated, those who do not have reliable access to transportation have expressed worry in regards to how they will get to their appointments.

However, Community Care Durham is helping to alleviate those concerns by providing access to transportation to and from appointments. Prior to the program, the organization was providing a range of services to individuals and caregivers in the region, including transportation to hospital visits and delivering meals to people at home.

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“Many of our clients are homebound individuals who can’t drive or lack the access to transportation, so it just seemed as a natural extension for us to start offering them drives to the vaccination centres,” said CEO James Meloche.

Meloche says these individuals include seniors, those in low-income households, younger populations and those with disabilities.

“These are individuals who are sometimes often anxious to go out of their homes regardless, even in the best of times,” he said.

“Having a familiar face from a trusted organization provide one-to-one care and bring them to their appointment provides additional reassurance.”

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Michelle Pahalan, an employee of the non-profit, says she used the service to get to her vaccination slot earlier this week.

“It was reliable, it was pleasant. Sometimes people complain taxi drivers drive like crazy people. (The driver, Mark) was really safe,” she said.

The company says it has imposed strict COVID-19 protocols, including regular cleaning of the vehicles and a shield between the driver and passenger, to ensure riders are safe.

Since mid-April, Community Care Durham says it’s driven roughly 150 people to their appointments. It adds, however, that the program wouldn’t be possible without the financial support of community organizations.

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Thanks to a donation from the Ontario Power Generation, the organization is providing 1,000 rides free of charge.

People of all ages can register for a lift to their appointment by contacting the organization.


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