Tulsa Health Department Teams with Caring Van to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Accessibility to Minorities

The Tulsa Health Department (THD) is working in partnership with the Oklahoma Caring Foundation to better reach at-risk communities and provide equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines for Tulsa County residents who are currently eligible, which includes health care workers, first responders, and adults age 65 and older.
Mobile Caring Vans will be offering the vaccine at several local churches and community centers serving predominantly minority residents. THD will provide the vaccines to be used at the mobile clinics, which will serve 80-120 individuals at each location.
“The Oklahoma Caring Foundation has been a tremendous community partner for THD for more than 20 years, and we routinely work together to ensure equitable access to immunizations in Tulsa County,” said THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart.  “We are pleased to partner with them to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible residents in low access areas in Tulsa County, especially in places where English may not be their native language.
Ensuring equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine is a top priority for THD. Recent research shows disparities in both the number of COVID-19 cases and willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine among minority communities,” Dart said.
“While there are many reasons for vaccine hesitancy, we strive to remove barriers related to transportation and vaccine access by establishing vaccine events in collaboration with community organizations, faith communities, and similar partners.
“It is our mission to provide access to preventive health services, including vaccines. Our Foundation partners have made the commitment and investment in the community to build trust in our program. When our vans are present outside of a church or school, residents are familiar with who we are and what we do, “said Oklahoma Caring Foundation Manager Amy Pulliam.
Appointments for these clinics are handled through the church or community center, and filled within hours of opening. The Caring Vans visit the locations and return on the appropriate date to administer second doses to complete the series for full protection at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Metropolitan Baptist Church, Antioch Baptist Church, New Jerusalem Baptist Church, Friendship Baptist Church and Tulsa Community Service Center
“We are planning to expand to additional locations as the supply of vaccine allows. Interested church or community organizations can contact the Oklahoma Caring Foundation through our website,” said Oklahoma Caring Foundation Manager Amy Pulliam.
Health equity is a cornerstone for the Tulsa Health Department, as many of the programs offered by the agency specifically work to improve health outcomes among underserved residents to close life expectancy gaps and create opportunities for equitable outcomes.
We are committed to ensuring COVID-19 vaccine access to all communities, including minority communities in Tulsa County.
“The greatest way to achieve improvements in health is to provide targeted support to those who experience the greatest health disparities in our own community,” said Dart. “This may not be the answer to the problem, but it’s a start in the right direction to provide equity in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines.”
More information regarding vaccine availability in Tulsa County can be found at tulsa-health.org/COVIDvaccine.COVID-19 information along with all other content on its website is accessible in 8 languages by using the built-in Google translate tool that can be used in any browser or device. For information regarding the Oklahoma COVID-19 Vaccine Plan, including the priority population framework for Oklahoma, please visit oklahoma.gov/covid19/vaccine-information. 
About Tulsa Health Department
Since its establishment in 1950, the Tulsa Health Department serves as the primary public health agency to more than 600,000 Tulsa County residents, including 13 municipalities and four unincorporated areas. The agency is one of two autonomous local health departments in Oklahoma, with statutory public health jurisdiction throughout Tulsa County and the City of Tulsa. THD’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of all Tulsa County residents, in order to make Tulsa County the healthiest county in the country. THD was among the first health departments in the U.S. to receive national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board. For more information, please visit www.tulsa-health.org.

About OklahomaCaringVan
The Oklahoma Caring Van Program delivers immunizations to protect children and adolescents from dangerous illnesses at no cost to their families. The Oklahoma Caring Van Program is uniquely designed to eliminate barriers that commonly prevent children from receiving on-time, age-appropriate immunizations in traditional health care settings. Since the program began in October 1999, thousands of children have received immunizations from registered immunization nurses aboard the Caring Vans. Immunization information is entered in the Oklahoma State Immunization Information System (OSIIS) so children’s vaccine history is readily available. The Caring Vans travel to licensed child care centers, schools and community locations statewide.