Jul. 22—ELKHART — Community health organizations coordinated their efforts over the weekend by reaching out to underserved populations with a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic.
Pfizer vaccines were administered to 152 people, organizers said. About 96 percent were Hispanic. Among those vaccinated were 49 children between 12 and 17.
"We want a normal school year for our kids, but to accomplish this task, we need to get our children vaccinated," county health officer Dr. Bethany Wait said. "The spread of the virus will cause continued quarantines, isolation and contact tracing for those not vaccinated."
The four-hour event at 444 N. Nappanee St. was sponsored by the Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition, Heart City Health, Real Services and the CDC Foundation with support from various media outlets, several Hispanic-owned businesses and Elkhart Community Schools.
Vaccines were offered to attendees from their cars by NIHHC and Health City Health staff and volunteers
"This is the best COVID-19 vaccine clinic we have attended, very well promoted, great turn out, seamless logistics, and everyone from Heart City Health and the NIHHC team was dedicated to providing a great experience for the participants," said Verla Curry, clinical manager of Heart City Health and one of eight health care providers administering the vaccines.
There are more than 404,000 Hispanics in Indiana and almost 70 percent do not have health insurance, organizer said. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Hispanic community particularly hard, they said, and with the new Delta variant, it is extremely important to receive a vaccine.
In June, the Elkhart County Health Department reported that 36 percent of the population was fully vaccinated. Of those vaccinated, only 13 percent were Hispanic, despite Hispanics comprising 16 percent of the population and being hardest hit by COVID-19, making up as much as 50 percent of cases at times.
"We exceeded our expectations," Liliana Quintero, executive director of the NIHHC, said of the clinic Saturday. "The results confirmed that it was a very successful event and ideal to attract the participation of our Hispanic community. We organized the event at the NIHHC's parking lot, a location they trust, where they feel safe, and they feel welcome. Services were offered in a culturally sensitive matter."
Quintero said 12 out of the 19 staff or volunteers from Heart City and NIHHC were bilingual. More than 15 trusted health care providers, leaders, and influencers extended the invitation among their circle of influence.
"Also, recent vaccination events have seen a decline in participation over the last month with an average 10 or fewer attendees, which makes the 150-plus turnout to this event more significant," Quintero said.
Second doses are scheduled for Aug. 7 at the same location, and everyone 12 and older is welcome, whether it's for their first or second shot, organizers said. Participants are reminded to bring their vaccination card.
Community members are encouraged to register for their appointments through NIHHC's COVID-19 hotline at 574-206-3938 or by calling 1-877-21-SALUD (72583).