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Vaccines on your doorstep? Central Iowa pharmacy takes vaccines on the road

VaxiTaxi fills a need for many who cannot leave their homes or who don't have transportation to a vaccine appointment.

ANKENY, Iowa — Though many Iowans qualify for the coronavirus vaccine, many are unable to schedule an appointment because they either cannot physically leave their homes or they do not have adequate access to transportation.

That's where VaxiTaxi, a new pharmacy based in Ankeny, comes in. 

Casey Villhauer is in charge of the company, getting a grant last year to start up her business and recruiting licensed pharmacists to go to people's homes and administer the vaccine. 

"At first it was the flu vaccine in the fall," Villhauer said. "Then we applied to be a vaccine provider with the state, and finally we've been able to get our allocation of doses from Polk County."

The county health department is in charge of distributing its vaccines, giving some to Villhauer's group this week. She is now able to go out to homebound residents' homes who have already signed up.

"We've got about a week and a half of backlog to get through, but we're doing a waiting list now for appointments," Villhauer said. "We expect to do about 100 visits next week."

VaxiTaxi pharmacists will make a call to the patient before visiting, answering any vaccine-related questions. They'll also ensure the patient fills out the necessary paperwork beforehand, or else they'll do it upon arrival.

Pharmacists will stay with the patient for at least 15 minutes after administering the  shot to look for any adverse reactions. 

"We're kind of bridging the gap that was always there because there just wasn't a system in place before," Villhauer said.

VaxiTaxi is only for central Iowa residents right now, but the hope is to expand to other areas of the state.

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