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Free Bus Rides To Vaccine Clinics Offered In Bay, Leon Counties

Bay County's public transportation system has begun transporting residents to vaccination appointments.
Bay County - Transit Division
Bay County's public transportation system has begun transporting residents to vaccination appointments.

Residents in Bay and Leon Counties can get free rides to their coronavirus shot appointments.

Both local governments this week extended public transportation service to local vaccination clinics.

“There were some people in the community that needed public transportation to get to and from those vaccinations locations,” said Lamar Hobbs, Bay County’s public transit administrator.

On Wednesday, the Bay County Public Transit System began shuttling people from the Callaway Walmart bus stop to the Callaway Arts and Conference Center, where shots are being administered.

The service will continue every Wednesday for the next two months, Hobbs said. Shuttles will run every hour between 7:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. He says residents should check the shuttle’s schedule online.

Hobbs says the county is also following a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that requires public transportation riders and drivers to wear a mask. He says face coverings will be available on the shuttle.

“We do encourage everybody to please bring a mask,” he said. “Our masks are in limited supply.”

Hobbs says the county has also partnered with the Bay County Council on Aging to transport older people from their homes to the Council on Aging center to get vaccinated. About 43 clients needed transportation to the center on Wednesday, he said. “A lot of them have disabilities,” Hobbs said. “That doesn’t afford them the opportunity to drive themselves.”

StarMetro in Tallahassee will also begin offering free bus rides to vaccination appointments during its normal routes. Residents must show the driver confirmation of their scheduled time to get the shot before getting free fare. Route information is availableonline.

The extended public transportation service comes as more vaccination sites have opened in the area.

In both counties, vaccinations will soon become available at more grocery stores.

Publix pharmacies in Leon County are now scheduling appointments. The retail grocery store chain has been offering the shot in Bay County since last month.

On Friday, Walmart and Sam’s Club will open online registration for seniors and other medically vulnerable residents who want the shot atselect locations across the state. Six of those stores are in Tallahassee and five are in Bay County.

Hobbs says the transit system is ready to extend service as more vaccination clinics open in Bay County. “We’ve made the commitment to do what we can to provide transportation throughout the county.”

Valerie Crowder is a freelance journalist based in Tallahassee, Fl. She's the former ATC host/government reporter for WFSU News. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.