If Latinos were behind in Covid-19 vaccination, you can bet they are behind on other adult and childhood vaccines as is the whole state (32nd in the nation for overall vaccine uptake)! So we’re into the schools, as you’ve seen recently in my reports working with CAHEP and CDPHE. Because that’s where the undervaccinated Latino kids and their parents are. 72% of students in Denver Public Schools are Latino. Probably a similar rate for Aurora Public Schools.
We’re also starting back into Catholic Churches, too, with “Las Vacunas en su Parroquia” “Vaccine Sundays”. Why Catholic Churches? Because, again, that’s where Latinos are and where they listen. In just the Archdiocese of Denver/Northern Colorado over half of the 550,000 parishioners are Latinos.
With the enthusiastic support of the Denver Catholic Medical Association we brought a new Vaccine Sunday to Sacred Heart Catholic Church and its nearby Centro San Juan Diego a couple weeks ago (Sunday September 24). It was not just a vaccine party this time with flu and Shingles shots, but also a health fair, similar to 365 Health, which sadly went out of business last month!
Besides the CDPHE Mobile Public Health Clinic with its vaccines and nurses, our partners were Colorado Access, Catholic Charities, Marisol Family with its Marisol Miles, CU School of Medicinevolunteer students, Rocky Vista University volunteer students, Colorado Alliance for Health Equity (CAHEP), Denver Health (for Medicaid enrollment assistance), Immunize Colorado and of course Julissa Soto Latino Health Equity Consulting along with 2 promotoras. That’s a lot of organizing! And when things worked as well as they did that that’s a gift from God!!
The clinic was supposed to start at 9am, but people were there by 830am. It progressed well, with the Latino community who came after church getting not only their vaccinations, flu and shingles shots, but also other health services: glucose and cholesterol checks, mouth/dental checks, blood pressure, foot, and eye checks, infant supplies, and Medicaid assistance. A special day for this neglected community.
For the immigrant Latino community, most who do not have primary care and have no health insurance, we asked all staff and volunteers to be warm and friendly, letting the community know we’re happy to serve them, health insurance or not. We want that community to see caring in action, not just health care, but caring. We wanted cultural validation in a way that could bring down mistrust barriers and work so this community knows that health care is meant for them too. Not as an afterthought or something we’re reluctant to provide, but as a genuine mission on our part. Working this way, if we can get more health partners on board, we can build the trust that is needed to finally make the health equity difference in Colorado.
There are always lessons of course to build on for the next Vaccine Sunday, which again will be a free health fair/vax combo. We expect to bring back a similar team to Ascension Parish in Montbello in January. And after that at least one Vaccine/Health Fair Sunday every quarter. We’re planning to move around the state! Invite us to your county/city!!
- As part of “One School One Vaccine at a Time”, CAHEP will be providing Tdap-(Colorado law requires students who are entering sixth grade to receive a tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap) vaccine before their first day of school) Attached letter from CDPHE. Kids can get this vaccine as early as 10 years Old.
FLU and maybe Covid-19 vaccinations at Aurora’s Fulton Academy of Excellence on October 11. Next time we hope to provide all childhood vaccinations too to boost Fulton’s vax compliance rate and protect the kids. We love the vision of Fulton’s principal, Dr. Dawn McWilliams: “We’re happy to host flu shots only if that’s all that’s available right now. It would be absolutely wonderful if the community started to associate us with a place where they can get vaccinated safely and without a bunch of questions. The more times we provide vaccines and information, the more likely they are to get vaccinated and come to us for information.”