CINCINNATI — Hamilton County’s vaccination goal is straightforward: 80% of eligible residents vaccinated against COVID-19. As of Tuesday afternoon, the county was close: 68%.
Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman believes the last 12%, people who have so far not booked an appointment or gone out of their way to attend a vaccination event, will get their shots at pop-up clinics.
The Hamilton County Health Department is determined to hold as many of these small events as possible and send the 513 Bus — a county-funded outreach vehicle full of resources that help with rent assistance, vaccination and free Wi-Fi — to places where vaccine penetration has been low.
“We know not everyone is excited about getting vaccinated,” Kesterman said. “If we make it easy for them and provide the opportunity for education, then hopefully, eventually, they'll arrive at the decision that the vaccine is right for them.”
For that 12%, coincidence and convenience might be more powerful than months of vaccine messaging. When the vaccine is readily available and doesn’t require an extra appointment or drive, it’s harder to justify not getting it.
Commissioner Alicia Reece, who helped create the 513 Bus, believes it’ll help.
“Maybe we get someone who wants utility and rental assistance, but while they're there, they're like, ‘Man, the shot is right here. I can talk to someone right here,’” she said.
And so does Yolanda Robinson, who got her shot when the bus visited Lincoln Heights. Her father had urged her to get it for months. So had her children. When she came to the bus for help with a utility bill, she learned she could get the vaccine there, too.
“It came up again,” she said. “So I might as well go on and get it done, because I plan on doing it. No use in putting it off. It wasn’t that bad at all.”