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If we agree that we cannot have health equity without vaccine equity, then last week at Paris Elementary we again showed them how it’s done.

I’ve found that providing so many different vaccines to adults and children at public schools can be complicated and prone to frustrating glitches in administration and vaccine delivery, unlike when we were doing only Covid-19 vaccinations. This type clinic is a magnitude more complicated with more potential for misunderstandings between parents and health/school staff.

But last week the Adams County Health Department team and school staff performed flawlessly without glitches.

Through the Paris Elementary Community School Coordinator, the Paris Elementary principal confirmed their success the next day:

“On behalf of the Paris Elementary School community, I want to sincerely thank you and all your partners for making last night such a success. We are grateful for the team’s awesome efficiency, cultural-responsiveness, and professionalism – and are so glad so many families were able to get their desired/needed vaccines, along with COVID tests and other wellness goodies. I appreciate your passion for health equity for our community. Thank you for your partners – and we look forward to hosting the next event together!”

So I’m learning more and more how to organize complicated school vaccination clinics properly.  Learning and building models of organization that work to help school staffs collaborate well with health department staffs.

If we agree we cannot have health equity without vaccination equity then last week we again showed how it’s done at Paris Elementary. We did what NHLBI Director Dr. Gary Gibbons said recently must be done in public health to live up to its mission “…to get to people where they are and speak to them in a way that resonates.”

As you can see by the pictures. Happy families who will tell other families in the community that the Adams County Health Department and the school wants them and embraces families in customer service. Customer service that will protect their health authentically. So they can begin to think of public health first rather than the back rooms of convenience and meat markets as was reported by the media.

I’m taking these lessons learned to two new schools next month. To Park Lane Elementary with CAHEP and Regis University pharmacy/nursing students on April 5 and then to East Middle School with Arapahoe County Public Health on April 20.

I’m also taking the lessons learned to others in the health care community who want to know how to bridge health practices into the hearts of marginalized communities.

I’ll be joining other states to present on best practices In Colorado for vaccination at the  Regional Vaccine Access Cooperative convening in Denver on April 16-18. It’s sponsored by the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM). I’m also excited to learn about any new approaches other states are trying too!

On June 8 I will be the Keynote speaker at The Colorado Pharmacists Society 2023 Residency Conference of the Rockies in Blackhawk:  “Thinking Beyond the Clinic: A Call to Action. Pharmacists Should Engage and Lead Health Equity in Communities!” And then that afternoon I will be at the Immunize Colorado Regional Immunization Conference in Glenwood Springs, talking about the innovation, challenges and successes bringing health equity into 2023 when so many want to go back to 2019. 

The “going back” is happening with PHE Unwind/Continuous enrollment. So many working on health programs are saying, “There’s too much information out there.” “We don’t need to do so much.” “Nothing we can do, because members need to talk with their Medicaid technicians.” That’s not necessarily true!! There’s a lot we can do. For example, explain the steps in a paisano-community way, authentically engaging with the community. Like, ask if your members know who their technicians are? Take the time to help them understand the process. But please. Let’s don’t go back to 2019. Passing out useless flyers, sending emails or making sterile phone calls that create more questions than answers. 

Then out of state,  I’ll be bringing these perspectives to the  2023 California Immunization Coalition Summit, Riverside May 8-10, talking on, “Vaccines, Theology, and Community.” 

I’ll also team with Dr. Joshua Williams of Denver Health as keynote speakers at the Kansas Immunization Conference, June 14 at KU Medical Center. We’ll be presenting “Clinical and Community Based Approaches to Improving Vaccine Confidence,” followed with a viewing of the film, Shot In the Arm. It’s a documentary that “explores vaccine hesitancy historically and in the context of our modern pandemic. Can we replace cynicism with healthy curiosity and bridge the political divides that make us sick?” Afterwards, I will participate in a panel discussion that Dr. Williams will moderate.

I’m also working with Immunize Colorado to help CSU students understand how on earth does outrageous vaccination misinformation get accepted through Spanish language media? This IDSA article, for instance, explores in English the myths of measles disinformation. I’ll take the students through some of the ropes of how to counter that type of misinformation affecting the Spanish speaking community.

Finally, (Whew!) I’ve been asked to contribute to a CU College of Nursing/Office of Continuing Nursing Education series on cultural considerations in health care. My contribution will be “Latino Health Care: Why Should I Care About Cultural Validation?”

I was honored but humbled to recently receive the CU Regents Distinguished Service Award to be presented at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus Commencement Ceremony this May.

Recently the CPR News reported“15,000 Coloradans have died due to Covid, A Loss of Historic Proportions.” With Latinos among the highest in death rate. My comment was the low vaccination rate for Colorado Latinos is behind that trend, and while “the pandemic emergency is fading out for some, the emergency in health access remains.”

So indeed the question remains, how to make our health system authentic for Latinos? As we showed in Paris Elementary with Adams County Health Department last week, it can be done if we spread the strategy like this to more schools, churches, community events in Colorado everywhere.