Drive-up sites, clinics reach out to communities of color to receive COVID-19 vaccines

Coronavirus

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — State and local governments are rushing to get COVID-19 vaccines distributed quickly, but they admit that key communities of color who are more likely to catch the virus are not getting the attention they deserve.

The La Familia Counseling Center and Asian Resources Inc., or ARI, said Friday they are willing and able to help meet state and county goals. 

A pop-up vaccination site at La Familia is scheduled for Saturday, and ARI will have a drive-up site to vaccinate 500 people on Monday. 

Reservations have already been snapped up by people who are fighting a language barrier. 

“Many of them are saying they are having a really hard time contacting hospitals to get this. The language isn’t there and to have to jump through hoops to get this and the questions aren’t being answered, but at our locations, they are,” said Stephanie Nguyen, ARI’s executive director and an Elk City councilmember.

That’s why vaccine distributors like Dignity Health and Sacramento County have reached out to ARI and La Familia Counseling to set up clinics. 

Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guerra said early oversights shouldn’t be repeated. 

“Last year, at the start of COVID, the lack of immediate connection with communities and trusted partners led to misinformation and unfortunately a rapid-spread disproportionately to many of these communities,” Guerra said.

While reaching underserved communities is now a statewide priority, the vaccine shortage is still a problem. 

But community organizations said they can still schedule vaccination events and be a conduit for key information while waiting for more vaccine deliveries. 

“Address their fears, the myths that are out there while they’re waiting for that vaccination so that when we do have the sufficient quantity of vaccinations, people are ready and they sign up and they go,” explained Rachil Rios, executive director of La Familia Counseling Center.

Both organizations said spaces for their pop-up vaccination events were filled within hours because the demand in ethnic communities, as they are elsewhere, remains high.

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