TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The College of Southern Idaho’s Office on Aging has been helping senior citizens throughout the pandemic by providing home-delivered meals and even phone calls for people who have been feeling lonely. Now, they're working with the South Central Public Health District (SCPHD) to arrange transportation for those who are 65 and older and need to get to their COVID-19 vaccination appointment.
The service is offered to all eight counties within the Magic Valley with the Office on Aging acting as a hub to arrange rides with their partners, Living Independence Network Corporation (LINC), Interlink Volunteer Caregiver Service, and Trans IV Buses.
The service is open to those who have no means of transportation.
“Being truly homebound means that you need help to access the community. If they’re truly homebound, we will provide, through those agencies, a free ride for them," says Shawna Wasko, Public Information Officer for the Office on Aging.
A vaccine appointment through the health district, Office on Aging, or another provider is required before requesting a ride. Those who register through SCPHD or the Office on Aging will be asked directly if transportation is needed.
If you set an appointment through another provider, you'll need to reach out to the Office for a ride directly, sooner rather than later.
“These agencies that provide the transportation ask to have at least 48 hours notice so that they can arrange for transportation," says Brianna Bodily with the South Central Public Health District. "This isn’t a situation where you can wait until the hour before and ask for it. They do need some time to make sure that somebody is available and there is a vehicle available for you.”
Since the service covers such a large region, it’s important that people who can find rides through friends or family do not abuse this system
“This is for individuals who have no other option because coordinating these services can be very difficult, especially because we can’t charter a bus, we can’t charter a big van and go pick up a bunch of people at a time. For the most part, this has to be on an individual by individual basis,” said Bodily.
Officials from the Office on Aging hope that this arrangement will be able to speed up the vaccination process for seniors and get them back to living a normal life.
“The sooner we get these people vaccinated, the sooner that they can start going out into the community, visiting their families, having their families visit them. It’s just going to solve a lot of issues of this terrible isolation that seniors are under,” says Wasko.
To find out more about the program or any other services from the Office on Aging, call them at 208-736-2122.