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Metro Offering Free Rides All Weekend Hoping To Boost COVID Vaccinations

person getting a shot

You can get a free ride on a Cincinnati Metro bus to get a COVID-19 vaccine starting Friday. All routes are offering free rides through Sunday, funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation. The fares are waived for everyone, not just people on their way to get vaccinated.

About 52% of people in Hamilton County have gotten at least one dose.

Cincinnati Health Department Medical Director Dr. Grant Mussman says he understands why many people are hesitant to get the vaccine.

"I think that the best approach is to remember that there is a disease out there that causes illness, hospitalization and death and has real consequences," Dr. Mussman said. "And so it comes down to, the what's the risk and benefit? And by far, COVID, to me, is much scarier than the COVID vaccine."

The vaccines are free even without health insurance and readily available throughout the region.

Dr. Mussman says the vaccines are the only way to end the pandemic, but in the meantime even fully vaccinated people should start wearing a mask indoors in public again.

He says if the pandemic continues to get worse, mask mandates might need to come back.

"You have to maintain buy in from the public in general, and you have to take into account what is the death rate actually going to be? What's the hospitalization rate going to be?" Mussman said. "Certainly, if things really go off the rails that would definitely be something that ought to be on the table."

Late last week, the CDC added Hamilton County to a long list of regions with substantial spread of the virus, triggering new guidelines including masks in public for fully vaccinated people.

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.