Free taxi rides to vaccination clinics available in Sudbury

For the second time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Lockerby Taxi and the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce and Desjardins are offering free rides to vaccination clinics for those in need.

“Everybody was definitely appreciative of the program and they're amazed that it’s 100 per cent free of charge and they’re just very thankful for it,” said Irvin Armitage with Lockerby Taxi.

“Especially the older folks around us, money's a bit tight, they’re excited to be able to not have to worry about taking public transit, being out in the cold.”

Project GoVax launched last year in an effort to get more residents vaccinated. Debbi Nicholson, with the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, said the idea was brought forward by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

“We offered the program from mid-May to the beginning of August last year and during that period of time we offered about 640 free rides,” said Nicholson.

As of Jan. 24 at 4 p.m., 80.5 per cent of residents age five and older are fully vaccinated, 86.3 per cent age five or older have received at least one dose, and 50.6 per cent of eligible residents have received their booster shot.

While rates are high, officials said more needs to be done.

“Currently, we know that there is a high rate of vaccination, but there is a much lower rate of third booster shots and, of course, we still have the children who have yet to be vaccinated,” said Nicholson.

Armitage said Lockerby has received calls about Project GoVax prior to the relaunch.

“There are the people who want to get their boosters who maybe have trouble getting around, especially with these cold temperatures," he said.

"So this funding we received from Desjardins and our partners, it’s great to be able to offer to this to the community again,”

Desjardins provided $10,000 to help fund the project, which officials estimate will last about two months depending on the demand.

“The taxi pricing is mandated by the city’s bylaw – (they're) the ones who determine the taxi prices based on recommendations from taxi companies and consumers,” said Armitage.

“There’s no centralized vaccine clinic anymore, so it used to be here at the Countryside Arena or Carmichael Arena, but rough estimates if you’re going to the south end to Minnow Lake you’re looking at a $30 taxi ride.”

Residents looking to take advantage of Project GoVax must have a vaccination appointment booked ahead of time and are being asked to provide 24-48 hours notice to Lockerby Taxi.

“We’re just really happy to give back to the community that we’ve been a part of for over 40 years,” said Armitage.

“It’s just great to give back and it’s just great to be involved with our community partners to offer this to the people who can use it.”