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Pop-up vaccine clinic in downtown Rochester reaches people with disabilities

Mar 31, 2021

Mike Townsend is the independent living and housing manager at the Center for Disability Rights
Credit Center for Disability Rights

A two-day COVID-19 vaccination clinic in downtown Rochester is providing Moderna shots for people with disabilities through a partnership with the Center for Disability Rights, AcuteKids pediatric urgent care, and Monroe County. 

The clinic is expected to vaccinate 60 people in a vulnerable population; according to the National Institutes of Health, people with developmental and intellectual disabilities have been harder hit by the pandemic's effects.

Before this, Megan Coffey with CDR was helping people with disabilities schedule appointments at other sites around the county, like the Dome Arena in Henrietta.

“The main question was, ‘Is there going to be someone there to help me get into the building?’ Or ‘I need assistance going up and down any steps.’ You know? Not sure of what the staffing situation is going to look like there,” Coffey said.

Mike Townsend also helped organize the pop-up clinic. For months,he was also helping schedule vaccination appointments for people.

“Lots of them have expressed issues with being able to access the website or getting through the process on their own, so being able to have support is what we’re hoping to offer to everyone,” Townsend said. 

Megan Coffey with the Center for Disability Rights filled in for a cancelled vaccine appointment on Wednesday while organizing the first of two pop-up clinics at CDR this week.
Credit provided by Megan Coffey

Organizing the clinic meant arranging rides for people to get to and from their appointments -- “We’ve had our vans out all morning," Townsend said -- and having helpers hold umbrellas for folks as they made their way into the building in the rain, things that aren’t necessarily guaranteed at a larger vaccination site.

“It felt like we were able to serve a population that really needed it in their environment where they were comfortable as well as providing safe care,” said Wendy Silverman, a nurse with AcuteKids. SIlverman was one of three nurses who administered the shots on Wednesday.

A second clinic is on Friday. All appointments are booked, but organizers will regroup to decide if other clinics like this will happen in the future.

This story is produced by WXXI's Inclusion Desk, focusing on disabilities and inclusion.