More than 200 million total COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S. over the past few months. Rural communities across the country have been in that number, despite the limited number of vaccination sites.
Mississippi native Pam Chatman saw this need for an increase in vaccinations around her community of Cleveland, Mississippi, and began creating the Vaccination Transportation Initiative.
The VTI program is a call for action to assist families across the Mississippi Delta to get vaccinated without worrying about transportation to get to the closest clinic.
Besides a limited number of vaccine sites, many residents lacked the technology they needed to make vaccination appointments.
“We know here in rural Mississippi, a lot of places here do not have internet. So, it was difficult for them to register,” Chatman said.
Mississippi Woman Expands Rural Residents’ Access to COVID-19 Vaccinations
The program, which is free of charge to all patients, is also going into the homes of people who may be homebound.
“We are now going into Black communities taking mobile facilities there and actually meeting the people and serving the people where they are,” Chatman said. “We’re going into their communities, into their churches, and providing them the vaccine.”
Melvin Curry, co-owner of Life Savers Assisted Living, was transported to a vaccination site by the VTI along with 15 others, including his daycare clients, staff members, and wife.
“It was very smooth,” Curry says. “There were no issues as far as our clients. Everything went well.”
Without the help of state leaders, various community organizations, local health care facilities, and churches, much of the success of the VTI would not have been possible.
Keith Fulcher, 59, of Hernando, Mississippi, began working with Chatman after becoming the president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi.
“When I became president of the foundation in April, I was in the position to make grants. So, we started talking about how the Community Foundation can support your nonprofits and the things you’re trying to carry out,” Fulcher said.
Fulcher went on to describe Chatman as “the Mother Teresa of the Mississippi Delta” when speaking about the work she has done with the VTI program.
So far the initiative has helped to serve nearly 60 people and raised over $30,000 in donations.
Chatman’s goal for the future is to make the program she started in Mississippi effective way beyond the South into other cities and states.
Chatman says, “I just want give because there are so many people who are afraid to ask for the things they need.”
For more information on the Vaccination Transportation Initiative, please contact (214) 302-9445.