For the fifth year in a row, seniors in northeast Queens and beyond will have free transportation services to their medical or vaccination appointments.
Councilman Paul Vallone announced the return of the free senior transportation program through Selfhelp Community Services. The annual program was made possible by a $90,000 funding allocation from the councilman’s office combined with an additional $50,000 allocated by Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilman Robert Holden.
Since COVID-19 vaccines launched, northeast Queens has not opened a vaccination site despite having one of the largest senior populations in the city. Vallone said that as he continues to push for local vaccination sites, the free transportation service is a “positive step in the right direction” in aiding senior constituents with getting to their appointments.
“In five years time, the free transportation program has provided Queens seniors with thousands of rides to and from important medical appointments,” said Vallone. “Now, faced with a public health crisis and with critical vaccine distribution underway, we must ensure that our most vulnerable populations are protected and kept healthy and safe. I want to thank Speaker Johnson for his commitment to this initiative and Selfhelp Community Services for always being an outstanding community partner.”
Seniors living in both Vallone’s and Holden’s districts are eligible for the free program. As in past years, free rides will also be offered to seniors within the five boroughs and Nassau County. The program will continue until all $140,000 in funding runs out.
“The pandemic isn’t over yet, but we are now able to see the beginning of the end, with the initial weeks of vaccine distribution underway,” said Sandy Myers, vice president of external affairs and communications at Selfhelp Community Services. “We are thrilled that our medical transportation program, with the long standing support of Council Member Paul Vallone and other members of the Council including Speaker Corey Johnson, can be used for older New Yorkers to get to and from appointments to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to other medical appointments. This program ensures that older adults have affordable, accessible and reliable transportation services and will continue to provide peace of mind to older adults and their family members as we all continue to take precautions to stay safe.”
To schedule a free ride to essential medical or vaccination appointments, Queens seniors can call the Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center at 718-224-7888 between 9 a.m. and noon and leave their name and phone number in a voicemail to schedule their next-day rides. Selfhelp will return their calls and arrange the ride.
Those who have appointments from Saturday through Monday should call on the prior Friday to schedule a ride. Seniors will fill out a basic application with demographic information, an emergency contact and a destination.