Vaccinating Texas: Connecting Texans With Vaccine Appointments Now Requires A More Individual Effort

Texas Standard has been tracking the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the state since early February.

By Laura RiceMay 11, 2021 11:41 am,

Texas Standard is still collecting listener-submitted stories about seeking the COVID-19 vaccine. Click here to record your stories about challenges, triumphs, and insights about the vaccination process.

The Texas Department of State Health Services says more than 50% of Texans over the age of 16 now have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in their arms. But with another half of Texans still to go, demand has dropped dramatically.

We know from earlier polls that about a third of Texans were likely to refuse the vaccine. The remaining 20% or so are likely not yet vaccinated because they are harder to reach for some reason.

That was Stephana De La Torre’s conclusion. She helps run an organization focused on getting voters to the polls. Rideshare2Vote is based in Dallas but it operates all over Texas. And its focus is partisan – specifically helping Democratic voters who need a ride to cast their ballot. But early this year, De La Torre realized there was a different need.

I was actually volunteering down at Fair Park, which was… Dallas’s [vaccine] megasite, and I was seeing that back in January, February, most people that were coming in were from the more affluent areas – just based on the cars that were driving through and whatnot. And I realized in my head the same type of people that we provide a service for, for voting were the same people that were having a hard time getting to the vaccine,” De La Torre said.

So Rideshare2Vote has become, temporarily, Rideshare2Vaccine. De La Torre reached out to local officials and they started getting referrals. The people they heard from needed an extra hand for a variety of reasons.

“Most of the people that we’re taking don’t have technology, whether it’s a computer or Internet. They might just have a flip phone,” De La Torre said. “You know, they’re older. For some of them English is a second language.”

And so De La Torre started pairing those folks seeking vaccines with her team of volunteer drivers.

“We’ve got about 20 drivers and they’ve been great,” De La Torre said. “And there’s one guy in Rowlett and he’s my super driver. I think he’s done over 50 rides.”

So, in general, the story has been that demand has been slowing down. In fact, Dallas’ vaccine megasite has reduced hours to reflect that decreased demand. But De La Torre says Rideshare2Vaccine has not seen the same decrease.

“We basically have been plodding right along and pretty much taking, you know, one to three rides every day. Some days, you know, we would take seven,” De La Torre said. “But I thought it would really start tapering off and we’re still getting ride requests every day, which I’m very glad about…  And a lot of our ride requests are second doses. But for example, today, all three rides are first dose people.”

De La Torre says if you know someone in need, Rideshare2Vaccine is taking referrals. But it’s also a model you can use yourself. It just starts with a conversation with a neighbor, someone at your church, wherever.

Take us through your experience – positive or negative. You can record your story directly for the radio here.

SEE MORE:Texas Standard’s Vaccinating Texas, Part One

SEE MORE: Texas Standard’s Vaccinating Texas, Part Two

SEE MORE: Texas Standard’s Vaccinating Texas, Part Three

SEE MORE: Texas Standard’s Vaccinating Texas, Part Four

SEE MORE: Texas Standard’s Vaccinating Texas, Part Five

SEE MORE: Texas Standard’s Vaccinating Texas, Part Six

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