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“We have problems accessing basic needs. Now imagine vaccines!”

We need to get into the community to build trust. After all, if Latinos aren’t utilizing primary care it’s because of mistrust and access. Going into the community, getting out from behind that intimidating barrier of the table that dulls interaction with people, and meeting and greeting community authentically showing genuine interest and caring, that’s what changes mistrust into trust and opens doors of access. It’s the only real way to do so.

In the brick and mortar clinics, people indeed might come, but many will not return. How do you get people to return?: Through that same authentic community engagement. It can happen. I witnessed it at the Aurora STRIDE Del Mar Clinic last week.

I came as a regular community person, a Latina from the hood, not a public health leader or a Board/Commission member they might recognize. I came as a first time patient seeking primary care. I was treated respectfully without jadedness from start to finish, from the front desk reception staff, to my new provider, to the behavioral health staff who follow physical care visits.  So respectfully that I made STRIDE primary care my medical home that day. I’ll be back. 

Like many of my paisanos, I had no primary care provider. I’ve heard the stories that abound in my community of disrespectful, indifferent treatment at clinics. I understand the mistrust that comes from that treatment and why many won’t return after the first visit but return to the meat market that they trust. The experience I had last week, however, convinces me that when any health clinic, whether brick and mortar or mobile, focuses on authentic engagement and customer service, mistrust morphs into trust. 

But getting into the community where people are and when they are available is still key.  This year our health departments have had challenges doing this. When they’ve been able to get into the community with mobile vax clinics, turn outs have been low. I’m working with health departments on how proper engagement builds trust and turnout. Of course, a barrier health departments face, especially the new ones this year, is how to staff mobile clinics when there’s barely enough staff to support their brick and mortar clinics. Part of the solution for health departments, like Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas, is to fund and utilize federally qualified clinics to administer mobile VFC/317 vaccinations for children and adults.

CDPHE is stepping up its mobile vaccination game, launching this month their own mobile clinics with staff we’ve trained in cultural validation. We’re working to bring those mobile clinics to the schools now. Schools, especially the majority of schools with high numbers of BIPOC students along with their parents, that’s where the most unvaccinated community is. Schools, then, vaccinating students (and let’s not forget their parents too), should be the focus moving into 2024 if we’re to turnaround the declining childhood vaccination rates.


  • Because of Labor Day, my monthly 5PM first Monday  Tigre radio show to the Spanish speaking community will be on Monday, September 11. My guest will be Ms. Adrea Alban from Diversus Health to open new perspectives and reduce stigmas dealing with youth and behavioral health.
  • Vaccine Party time on September 5, 3-6PM at Denver’s Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment! CDPHE mobile clinics will provide the vaccinations.  
  • On September 6 at 230pm, Ms. Annie Lee, CEO of Colorado Access, and I will be part of an Early Milestones Colorado webinar panel discussing its Racial Equity Project focusing on Latino children health research: what it means today to meet the needs of children across the state. You can register for the webinar here.
  • On September 11th, I’ll be the in-person spokesperson for an One Chance Billboard Media Event One Chance to Grow Up. We’re focusing on the dangers of youth marijuana consumption. I’ll be using the first-hand story of my son.
  • On September 12 at 1PM MDT I’ll be providing webinar style Cultural Validation Training for the Indiana Immunization Coalition. The importance of utilizing Cultural Validation when interacting with vulnerable and marginalized populations and communities, particularly in health and public health settings. You can join me at 1PM MDT on September 12 at this link.
  • On September 14, I’ll be presenting  Vaccine Law Tools to Reach ‘the Unreachable'” in person at the National Vaccine Law Conference (NVLC)  at George Washington University. You can register for virtual attendance.  
  • On September 19 I’ll be part of a web event: the Immunization Coalition of Los Angeles County’s (ICLAC) 25th-anniversary Fall Vaccine Forum. AT 11am MDT, I’ll be helping celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month presenting on “The Power of Cultural Validation in Immunization Engagement”. Register for the web event here
  • Last week I provided Cultural Validation Training to the Grand County Public Health Department. The training intrigued Health Department staff who could attend. We took on challenging questions both during and with follow up after the Training. Here are a few of their responses:
    • “Julissa, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and your life story with us. Thank you for bringing your amazing energy and such compassionate and honest training to Grand County, it was refreshing!”
    • “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing this training and opportunity to explore ways to begin to break down barriers for our community. I felt that our earlier training was engaging and a safe space to acknowledge our unintended biases and begin to understand the perspectives of others… The work you do is tough, and God bless you for doing it.”  
    • “Being a white person, born and raised in Colorado, I have a feeling there are some pieces of the puzzle I am missing or that I don’t understand because I haven’t had to face the same types of challenges as someone who is a racial minority or immigrant. That’s why I want to learn! I don’t want to be ignorant or uncompassionate.”
    • Here’s a pic of the Grand County Public Health Department staff who attended the training. (Below)
  • Then, later that evening, I engaged Grand County community members at the Our Lady of the Snow Catholic Church in nearby Granby. I was delighted to meet with the community and their pastor, Father Peter. We discussed many of the issues that are barriers to primary care for these community members.  
  • One community member commented, “Health care access is difficult for all in this county. Not only for our (Latino) community. We have problems accessing basic needs. Now imagine vaccines!!”
  • Here’s a picture of the Grand County community who attended. (Below)
  • Here’s another picture of a couple of the housekeeping staff at the Granby hotel I stayed in. Showing off the phone promoting the community health event that would be at Our Lady of the Snow Parish, “Entrenamiento sobre Validacion Cultural”. The Grand County community is a large and very tight Latino community. They all communicate with each other!! They couldn’t come that evening because they had to work but were smiling because they recognized me from my TV promotions.
  • Last week I talked about the nationwide Moderna sponsored webinar I participated in with 3 Latino doctors directed at providers who might not understand the culture that keeps Latinos distant from the vaccination clinic. A video of that discussion should be available soon. The webinar was so well received that we’re now working on a Spanish language webinar with those doctors directed at Latinos themselves. It will review ways to encourage Latinos to continue vaccination against Covid-19 and other vaccine preventable diseases. More to come!