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Summit County Public Health Takes Targeted Approach to Vaccinate Minority Communities

vaccine accessibility map
Jen Mapes
Kent State
Vaccines are becoming more accessible to minority populations as pop-up sites enter their communities.

Ohioans of color are not getting vaccinated at the same rates as other populations. A Kent State University geographer has found mass vaccination locations have not always been convenient for these populations.

Summit County Public Health is moving away from mass vaccination sites by adding vaccine pop-up locations in neighborhoods with dense populations who may not have access to reliable transportation. But Health Commissioner Donna Skoda notes that transportation wasn’t the only barrier these populations were facing.

“What’s interesting to us is that it’s almost like a culture of not leaving their neighborhood,” she said.

Kent State geography professor Jen Mapes supports this targeted approach.

“But when you get out into some of the areas that are densely populated but are highly residential and don’t have a lot of services otherwise, then that’s going to be challenging as well,” she said.

Skoda hopes the new pop-up sites in places such as Buchtel Community Learning Center and the Metro RTA Transit Center, will offer appealing convenience to those who have not yet had a shot.

Skoda says this targeted approach aims to bring vaccines to communities where vaccination rates are low.

Summit County Public Health Takes Targeted Approach to Vaccinate Minority Communities
Skoda: changing the strategy
Health Commissioner Donna Skoda

“And now we’ve moved from sort of this mass vax site strategy to looking at more of the areas where we have not had as much vaccine uptake for whatever the reason,” she said.

No appointment is necessary to get vaccinated at a pop-up site.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media. A Northeast Ohio native and lifelong listener of public radio, Abigail started in public radio as a news intern at WKSU. She graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Kent State University.