After Clara Toro received her COVID-19 vaccination Friday morning, she had a few questions.
When should she get the next dose? Was the appointment already scheduled? Could the nurse please write down the date?
With help from Marcella Broughal, a Spanish language interpreter, Toro and nurse Kristi Jackson covered all the information she sought.
Toro was among 250 people who received vaccinations at a community clinic at the Wyoming Senior Center.
Spectrum Health held the one-day clinic in partnership with the city of Wyoming and the Kent County Health Department.
The clinic is part of an effort to bring COVID-19 vaccinations to locations that are familiar and accessible to the surrounding communities.
“We really want to mobilize in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, where we have higher mortality rates,” said Nastaciea Robert, Spectrum Health director of contact center services and access.
One aim of the clinic at the Wyoming Senior Center was to reach members of the Latinx community and those in the 49509 ZIP code, an area highlighted as a COVID-19 hot spot by the Kent County Health Department.
Interpreters were available to translate for patients and the medical team to remove any language barriers while receiving care.
Providing vaccines in convenient locations is crucial to reach Black and Brown communities with education and access to the vaccine, Robert said.
“From family dynamics to generational history, the Black and Brown community trusts our pastors. They trust the people they see and respect every day and those they trust within their friend circle,” she said. “If those people believe in the process and the vaccination, those same folks become influencers to build trust in the system to get vaccinated.”
Relationships in the community helped determine which locations were best for administering the vaccine, she added.
Toro’s views on COVID-19 vaccinations have changed since the first vaccines became available.
“In the beginning, I was hesitant and said I was not going to get it,” she explained. “But I’ve heard a lot of doctors talk about it on TV and that helped change my mind.”
Now she encourages her family members and friends to get the vaccine.
“They should get the shots, all of them,” she said.
She and her husband, Miguel, said they preferred going to the senior center, rather than a hospital, for the vaccines.
“It’s more comfortable,” Miguel said. “I like the way it’s done.”
At 92 years old, Lien Dang has overcome much in her life. Living in Laos, she survived three major wars before fleeing with her family to West Michigan in 1976.
Her daughter, Huyen Dang, hopes to help her mother survive the COVID-19 pandemic as well.
As she brought her mom in a wheelchair to the clinic, Huyen Dang appreciated the easy access the senior center provided, close to their home in Wyoming. With no lines, they were able to get the vaccine as soon as they registered.
“It worked out really good,” Huyen Dang said.
Accompanying the Dangs to the clinic were friends from church, Hieu and Tha Nguyen.
Asked what he thought about the injection, Hieu Nguyen gave a thumbs-up.
“I feel very good,” he said. “I feel safer.”
Easy to find
The Wyoming Senior Center is a familiar place for Patty McClenathan. Before the pandemic, she took exercises classes and played bridge there every week.
When she learned the clinic would be held there, she eagerly signed up.
“I think this is wonderful,” she said. “I know exactly how to get here. I know where to park.”
McClenathan did not hesitate to get the vaccine.
“I don’t want to get the virus,” she said.
She added that she hopes others will get the vaccine—and that people will continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
“I hope people will continue wearing masks and social distancing until the virus is under control for everybody,” she said.
‘A good day’
Olivia Williams sat down, ready for her vaccine.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s a good day. It’s a good week.”
After the nurse Kelli Greer, RN, gave her the injection, Williams shared a thumbs-up.
“Thank you so much,” she said.
For Williams, the vaccine provides hope of a day when the pandemic will be in the past.
“I’d like to be able to come out of the house a little bit more and be safe,” she said.
“And I don’t want to get sick. This virus is tricky and it’s random.”