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KUNC is here to keep you up-to-date on the news about COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — Colorado's response to its spread in our state and its impact on Coloradans.

Upcoming Clinic In Weld County Hopes To Vaccinate 1,000 Latino Residents Against COVID-19

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Matt Bloom
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KUNC
A staff member waits near the entrance of Sunrise Community Health’s clinic in Evans during a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in January.

In an effort to mitigate stark racial disparities in Colorado's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, a cadre of Weld County advocacy groups plans to host a mass vaccination clinic for Latino residents next month.

The clinic, which is set to take place at Sunrise Community Health’s Monfort Family Clinic in Evans, will inoculate 1,000 people. Immigrant and refugee residents of any background are also eligible to make an appointment, organizers say.

The Latino Coalition of Weld County is organizing the March 14 event with help from the Hispanic Women of Weld County, Latinos Unidos of Greeley and the Immigrant and Refugee Center of Northern Colorado, among others. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is supplying vaccine doses.

“This is such an important event because Weld County has such a low number of vaccinations altogether, be it people of color or others,” said Stacy Suniga, president of the Latino Coalition. “That’s one of the reasons we were targeted to put this on.”

A member of Gov. Jared Polis' vaccine equity commission reached out to the coalition earlier this month to arrange the clinic, Suniga said. It's a part of the state’s broader effort to address emerging racial and socioeconomic disparities.

Colorado has vaccinated about 800,000 people against COVID-19—less than a fifth of the population. In most counties, white residents have so far received a disproportionately large number of doses.

Rates for communities of color, meanwhile, have lagged well below their share of the population. In Weld County, less than 10% of vaccine doses have gone to Latino residents, even though they make up roughly 30% of the population.

Reasons for the disparities vary.

Surveys have shown communities of color are more hesitant to get vaccinated due to a lack of trust in the medical system. Many are suspicious of state and federal governments, especially when it comes to ID verification. Vaccine clinic locations and language barriers are also potential factors.

Suniga said she hopes the upcoming clinic can help build trust among Latinos.

“We wouldn’t put our community in harm’s way,” Suniga said. “The medical community is touting 95% effectiveness in this vaccine. This is for the betterment of everyone.”

The clinic’s announcement comes as other vaccine providers in Northern Colorado start to focus their efforts at improving equity.

Last week, more than a dozen local public health departments, hospitals and nonprofits agreed upon a regional vaccine equity plan. It outlines key strategies the Northern Colorado organizations hope to pursue in the coming months.

They include engaging community-based organizations, addressing access barriers (such as transportation), and developing a regional COVID-19 vaccine promotion campaign in English, Spanish and other languages.

Their goal: Reduce gaps in vaccination rates between racial and ethnic groups by 50% or more in the next six months.

“We all have to work together,” said Eric Aakko, a spokesman for Weld County’s health department, which helped craft the plan. “This is a foundation and we can’t do it ourselves. We need to all work collaboratively.”

More pop-up equity clinics will be a part of the plan as well, Aakko said.

Colorado is currently in phase 1B.2 of its COVID-19 vaccine plan, which means only a limited group of people are officially eligible to receive a dose. Eligibility is expected to expand as soon as March 5 as supply grows over the coming weeks.

To see the current iteration of the state’s plan, go here.

The Latino Coalition and Sunrise’s equity clinic on March 14 will be by appointment only. Organizers are encouraging residents in the state’s next distribution phase, which includes certain essential workers and people aged 16-65 with two or more “high risk” health conditions, to sign up.

To register, visit Sunrise’s website. Or call 970-346-2587 (English) or 970-346-2589 (Spanish).

A list of other COVID-19 vaccine providers in Northern Colorado is available here.

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