In rural and urban communities nationwide, homebound Americans are struggling to access COVID-19 vaccination sites, according to a May 17 Toyota press release. Across the nation, this mobility challenge affects an estimated four million people. If people can’t access vaccine sites due to limited transit options, then help is needed to bring the vaccine to them or provide the necessary transportation.

To support vaccine accessibility, Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) is providing several national and local nonprofit organizations with more than 50 vehicles and grant funding. The vehicles support efforts in 13 states, with grant funding assisting various multicultural organizations throughout the country.

A group of non-profit and municipal agencies focused on supporting older adults will receive funding for vehicles to assist with rides to vaccine appointments. In addition, the Los Angeles City Fire Department will dispatch teams for home visits in a fleet of Toyota vehicles and to support pop-up clinics, and UnidosUS will deploy its Toyota fleet as part of the Esperanza Hope for All vaccine education campaign.

“Through mobility we can improve access to vaccines and enable organizations to reach hundreds of thousands of people across the country,” said Chris Reynolds, chief administration officer, TMNA. “By collaborating with AARP, UnidosUS and a host of additional community partners, we’re able to extend resources to organizations that have an intricate knowledge of the communities’ specific needs, coming together to make the strongest impact.”

Collaborating with AARP to Support Local Transportation Needs

Building on a 10-year collaboration, Toyota worked with AARP to identify local organizations across nine states focused on providing essential services in underserved communities. The support from Toyota and AARP will help these local organizations increase vaccine awareness, education and access, including rides to vaccine appointments and other essential trips.

“AARP has helped older Americans navigate the health and economic challenges of the pandemic, and through this collaboration, we’re better able to help people in rural and underserved communities get to and from vaccination appointments,” said Kyle Rakow, vice president and national director at AARP Driver Safety.

Increasing Education Outreach to Multicultural Communities

Rides are just one part of the equation. Understanding needs and informing communities are also vital tools. $1 million in grant funds from Toyota will support bilingual education and outreach, including with UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization. UnidosUS is receiving vehicles and grant funding for the mobile tour of its Esperanza Hope for All campaign. This builds on Toyota grants to LULAC for Vacunate Hoy!; Hispanic Federation for COVID-19 VIDA (Vaccination Immunization Dosage Awareness); and additional organizations.

The mission of the UnidosUS Esperanza Hope for All campaign is to deliver critical information about the COVID-19 vaccines directly into Latino neighborhoods, said Rita Carreón, Vice President of Health. “By way of the mobile tour, we are helping to combat misinformation and build trust in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines in hard to reach communities. More importantly, we are ensuring that in-language and in-culture information is coming from trusted members of the community in an environment where they’re comfortable.”

The UnidosUS mobile educational tour, which ran every weekend from April 16 through May 23, delivers information about the COVID-19 vaccines directly into Hispanic neighborhoods across the country, including to areas where health resources are difficult to access.

Building on Prior Efforts

These new efforts build upon prior Toyota USA Foundation grants to promote e-learning, bridge the digital divide, and bolster food assistance. Additionally, based on requests from local municipalities in Kentucky and Texas, Toyota dispatched its employees to help optimize work and reduce wait times at local vaccination sites by applying Toyota Production System (TPS) principles. Toyota employees also developed more than 500,000 protective face shields for healthcare professionals.

Information: Toyota COVID-19 response efforts 

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