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Program offers free rides for seniors to vaccine appointments

Seniors with disabilities or who don't drive can sign up to get a free ride to get vaccinated at locations around the state.

COLORADO, USA — As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, healthcare providers are working to make sure seniors with disabilities and those who don't drive are able to get vaccinated. A new program funded by Kaiser Permanente is offering free rides to vaccine appointments for seniors who struggle with mobility.

Kaiser is partnering with eight transportation providers to give seniors with disabilities or who don’t drive free rides to vaccine appointments across the state.

"This was a huge deal for me," said Debbie Noel, who rode a Via Mobility Services bus from her house in Longmont Thursday to her vaccine appointment. "The only way I could get the vaccine is because of Via. I can’t get in and out of cars anymore. I don’t have that ability to shift my body that way. This is a life saver."

Of all the rides Debbie has taken with Via, this destination is the most important. Debbie has been in a wheelchair for almost 30 years after an accident with a gun. She prides herself on her independence, but doesn’t drive and relies on Via to get her around Longmont.

RELATED: 37% of Coloradans immune to COVID, but hospitalizations spiking among unvaccinated

"The bullet shot into the kitchen and hit my back and severed my spinal column. I’m paralyzed from the breast line down," said Noel. "It’s getting me into the community. It’s getting me to be able to do the things I need to do. It’s giving me back my independence."

On Thursday, Noel took advantage of the new program designed to make sure everyone has transportation access to vaccine appointments. 

"Now with Via offering the rides free for anyone who needs to get their vaccine, there’s not an excuse at all for not getting the shot. You just need to get the shot," said Noel. "To finally get through all of those stages to get to this point is good. Really good."

RELATED: How do Colorado's walk-up vaccine sites work?

Noel has spent the last year praying that her daughter Stephanie would stay healthy as she worked shifts in the ICU at Longmont United Hospital.

Now it’s Stephanie’s turn to help protect her mother, administering her the vaccine Thursday. 

"Absolutely wonderful," said Noel. "It was a momentous moment for me. It just meant so much to me."

You can find out more about how to sign up for the program through Kaiser here.