DPHE reports vaccination rates for Colorado K-12 students declined for all school-required vaccines last year. Right now in 2023, less than half of Colorado students attend school with adequate protection from vaccine-preventable diseases. See Immunize Colorado.
I have to ask what’s up with us in the health community in the face of this crisis? It seems too many of us are tired, exhausted and too hesitant to remove the system obstacles to health care access revealed during the Pandemic. So tired that we think it’s not our job to meet communities where they are, in order to tackle barriers to health. Of course when we think it’s not our job to do this, then public health becomes just another job, not a passion.
Thank goodness, though, that more and more of us in health are busting out of the Post-Pandemic lethargy, recognizing the old ways don’t work. Recognizing that vaccination clinics without new approaches of authentic community engagement are not cost effective nor break down access barriers. I was tickled when a friend emailed me this picture of what someone in Denver Health had written on his cubicle white board:
Waiting on the sidelines is not going to reach the communities left out of healthcare. The health community must now be willing to interact directly in authentic ways with the communities they wish to serve. – Julissa Soto
With that, “One School, One Vaccine At a Time” continues implementing the cultural validation I’ve talked about. Next week the CAHEP/Regis University vax team will be vaccinating kids at Aurora’s Vega Collegiate Academy as part of its 3 day graduation celebration, K-1st, 2ndto 5th, 6th to 8th grades.
We have more schools lined up for the summer and into the 2023-2024 school year. We need help though. I would love to team up with health departments that are VFC (Vaccines For Children) registered to help those schools. I know health departments don’t have sufficient in-house vaccinators to meet the school vax crisis demands. I’ve received assurance from CDPHE that VFC clinics can indeed integrate qualified health care student vaccinators with their preceptors into their community clinics. Of course, this is what we’re proving works with the CAHEP/Regis University vax team.
- June 5 is the next first Monday of the month Tigre radio program, “Prevention is Health with Julissa Soto” at 5PM, working with CCHA. Spanish language of course. We’re focused on Medicaid Unwind (PHE). We’re urging Latinos to pay attention to their renewal package and fill out the forms received. My guest will be Dr. Jose Cucalon Calderon. He’s originally from Ecuador, completing his training in pediatrics at the University of South Alabama. He is now teaching at the University of Nevada. He launched the Nevada Chapter for the National Hispanic Medical Association. I share with him an intense advocacy and passion for Latino health. It breaks our hearts when we hear this from our paisanos, as I have:
“Why get vaccinated if you know you’re going to get maltreated.”
“I prefer to be with no health care than to go through all the crap I have to face to get it.”
“I might as well go without health care and wait to die.”
One of the ladies in my HCPF Equity Task force focus group told me, “I’m afraid to open that Medicaid packet I received. I’m afraid they’d deny my Medicaid!” I sadly confirmed, “Unless you fill out that form you will definitely be denied”. She was one of the ladies reviewing the Spanish language Medicaid forms and having trouble understanding them.
Providing a niche of help is what we’re doing on the Spanish language radio program, helping Latinos through the maze of the unwind and cutting the crap as much as we can!
- Working with CCHA, I’ve also prepared Spanish language mediato present through 180 prime time slots in RAEs 6 and 7 counties. We’ll be urging Latinos to reregister with Medicaid.
- On Thursday, June 8, I’ll be speaking at these two events:
- Morning: Keynote speaker at the Colorado Pharmacists Society 2023 Annual Meeting and Residency Conference of the Rockies in Blackhawk: “A Call to Action, Pharmacists Should Engage and Lead Health Equity in Communities”.
- Afternoon: I’ll be teaming with 2 other Colorado health providers who are also in the trenches of health care speaking at Immunize Colorado’s 2023 Regional Immunization Summitin Glenwood Springs. The topic is “Thinking Beyond the Clinic”.
- In these times when the equity needle is not moving in the right direction, when resources are low, immunization rates have plummeted, and health providers feel exhausted, let’s be creative!!
Thank you for hanging in there with me through these weekly email reports. I hope you are as inspired as this organizer with CIRC who last week emailed me to introduce herself.
“The emails Julissa sends shed a light on the inequities and vulnerabilities that exist in our low income and immigrant communities and the strong need to address them. As a DACA recipient myself, I know what it is like to grow up without easy access to healthcare and having to navigate a system that was not put in place for us. It is so energizing seeing a member of my community take on this issue head on and create a space at the table for herself” (and us!)
I love working with this new generation of health providers who are our future. They are willing to observe, evaluate, learn and apply! The need for learning and applying the simple techniques of Cultural Validation resonates with them!