REDMOND, Wash. — With sunshine and Mariachi music to greet them, Sunday’s event at a Redmond park felt less like a COVID-19 vaccination clinic and more like a community event.
It’s the kind of atmosphere that makes people feel more comfortable and that’s the goal as advocates try to reach out to underserved populations around King County.
“Very often here are equity issues with rolling out programs to the Latino community. When we bring programs we like to do it in a way that makes sense culturally,” Angie Hinojos of Centro Cultural Mexicano said.
This event targeted Latino populations, a community that is not projected to reach the target 70% vaccination rate until sometime in September without major interventions.
A big part of this effort is a mobile pharmacy that allows the safe transportation of vaccines out to the sites. It’s part of a partnership between Overlake Medical Center, Evergreen Health, and Microsoft - which donated one of the shuttles. They link up with community partners who understand the needs of the individual groups and figure out unique ways to get people vaccinated.
“We’re set up to pop up anywhere. Could be a baseball field, could be a soccer field, could be a community event, could be something like this to make the vaccine as widely available as possible and as easy as possible," said Gordon Oakes, director of Clinical Support Services at Overlake.
They say the setup allows for flexibility.
"We can actually open up one dose at a time so that we don’t waste any doses,” he said.
The work is especially important in the Latino community where vaccination rates are trailing.
“We are knocking on every possible door that we can knock on but I believe more support is needed for our Latino community,” Hinojos said.
They’re planning to do at least one vaccine clinic a week with their mobile unit this summer. As they make more partnerships they hope to get more on the books. The next pop-up clinic is scheduled for Wednesday, June 30 from 3-7 p.m. at the Crossroads Community Center in Bellevue.
“We’ll keep doing this as long as there’s a need,” Oakes said.