Saturday, October 1, 2022

Cape Fear Clinic offers vaccines to Wave drivers, who shuttle people to appointments of their own

WAVE drivers were previously tasked with driving individuals to Covid-19 vaccination appointments. Cape Fear Clinic has extended vaccination appointments to drivers as they become eligible.(Port City Daily photo / File)

WILMINGTON — To protect the Wave Transit employees who drive the public buses tasked with transporting patients to Covid-19 vaccination clinics, Cape Fear Clinic has scheduled vaccination appointments for drivers wanting a shot. 

A handful of currently eligible employees ages 65 and older have already been vaccinated. Another 40 appointments are scheduled for after March 10, when many retail and service industry workers can receive the vaccine.

Raleigh leaders previously dispersed $2.5 million in relief funds to local transit agencies across the state, with the goal of utilizing public transportation in the effort to administer Covid-19 vaccines. Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority (Wave Transit) was provided $41,293 through the initiative to offer rides to people who needed transportation assistance. 

RELATED: Vaccine Update: Wave offers free rides for vaccines, NHRMC opens vaccines at Stone Theaters

Jennifer Buxton, the chief pharmacy officer for Cape Fear Clinic, said she first wanted to pursue bus-driver vaccinations after that announcement.

“What better than to vaccinate all of the bus drivers,” she said. “Because they’re the ones who are going to be doing the driving for all these people that are getting to their Covid vaccines.” 

Megan Matheny, deputy director of Wave Transit, added, “Our drivers have always been on the front lines.” She said the vaccination offerings were welcomed. 

Cape Fear Clinic previously received a handful of doses from the vaccine New Hanover County’s supply. Until recently, the county and New Hanover Regional Medical Center were the only entities included in the state supply lines. Shipments could be shared between authorized providers at the county level, which additionally included Wilmington Health Associates and MedNorth

MedNorth, as a federally qualified health center, now receives 100 doses weekly from the government. Cape Fear Clinic, too, was added to the distribution chain. Now the facility hears three weeks in advance the number of doses to expect, with an initial allotment of 100 doses per week. 

“It frees us to communicate with our partners and with the community at large about what we’re able to do,” Buxton said. “We can do it earlier in the planning process because we know what’s coming down the pipeline.” 

Cape Fear Clinic serves an underinsured and uninsured patient base. Appointments have been scheduled for some of the clinic’s eligible patients.

Meanwhile, Novant Health and New Hanover County collaborated this week to vaccinate more than 2,000 school workers. 

RELATED: One-third of New Hanover County PreK-12, childcare workers to receive Covid-19 vaccines Wednesday

With additional doses, the county set up 1,240 individual appointments for Feb. 26: 810 appointments were scheduled online, and 430 were booked via phone call, according to a county spokesperson.

Like the Wave drivers who become eligible March 10, many segments of the population will gain entry into the queue soon. The state has advised counties it is acceptable to hold off on extending eligibility until the first stages are taken care of. More than half the county’s 65-and-older population has been vaccinated, according to state data. 

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