Free taxis hailed as a way to get more people vaccinated in Windsor-Essex hot spots

Not having a ride to a COVID-19 vaccination site is no longer a roadblock to getting a shot for Windsor-Essex residents living in hot spots.

Chamber of Commerce says initiative was launched to remove barriers

Vets Cab in Windsor is one of two companies operating free rides to vaccination sites. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

For Windsor-Essex residents living in COVID-19 hot spots, not having a ride will no longer be a roadblock to getting a vaccine.

The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce launched a new initiative Monday that provides free taxi rides for people living in seven hot spot postal codes (N8X, N8Y, N9A, N9B, N9C, N8H, N9Y) who are unable to arrange their own transportation to a vaccine site.

"We want to make sure that as many people get vaccinated as possible," the organization's CEO Rakesh Naidu said.

"We recognize that in some of these regions, there are people that do want to get vaccinated, who want to go out and be at the vaccination centre, but either don't have the ride or cannot afford it or have some challenges, mobility challenges and so on."

The taxi service is being provided by Vets Cab in Windsor and Sun Parlor Taxi in Leamington.

Naidu said anyone eligible for a complimentary cab can call the company, indicate they'd like to go the vaccination site and show their appointment information.

Rakesh Naidu, president and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, says getting as many people vaccinated as soon as possible will help reopen the economy. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

At least for now, the initiative is only available for those living in hot spots, a priority identified by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, said Naidu.

Currently, adults 50 and older in those postal codes can register for their appointment by using the health unit's website or by calling.

$35K raised for free rides

Naidu said that so far, $35,000 has been raised through community partners to pay for the cabs — enough for 1,750 people to go on a $20 ride, for example — and the chamber is looking to raise additional funds.

The program is sponsored by Green Shield Canada, Hydro One, Sun Life, the Rotary Clubs of Windsor and Essex County, and W/E Rotary Catch The Ace.

It's not the only initiative intended to tackle transportation barriers — Transit Windsor is offering free rides to and from vaccination sites.

With files from Sanjay Maru

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