Vaccine Update: May 2021
Collaborations and Mobile Vaccination Efforts Making a Difference Across the County
Four months into the nationwide march toward vaccination against the COVID-19 pandemic, Sonoma County is making progress on all fronts—especially when it comes to administering the shots equitably.
The good news: As of early May, more than 41 percent of the Sonoma County population was fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The bad news: Many members of our community still are experiencing serious hesitancy about getting the vaccine and have held off from doing so, severely crippling our efforts to achieve the herd-immunity threshold of about 75 percent.
Thankfully, several Healthcare Foundation grantee organizations have been doing their part to get community members vaccinated and raise awareness of the benefits.
Alliance Medical Centers and Corazón Healdsburg have partnered to produce astonishing results. Recent statistics from Alliance indicate that they have fully vaccinated more than 11,000, and that another 13,000 have received the first of two shots at their walk-in vaccine clinics in Healdsburg and Windsor. Corazón contributed to the success of these clinics by registering Spanish-speaking patients at both sites, resulting in 55% or nearly 6,000 of the vaccinated folks being from the Latinx community.
All told, recent Sonoma County statistics noted that 72.6 percent of Healdsburg residents over the age of 16 were fully vaccinated. Healdsburg City Councilperson Ariel Kelley said this number is largely due in part to the hard work of volunteers and local medical organizations.
“We have exceeded all equity metrics throughout and continue to demonstrate the strength of community outreach by trusted messengers,” Kelley wrote on her Facebook page in late April. “This project has been exhausting but one of the most impactful experiences, thanks to our team who continues to show up (virtually) day after day.”
Healthcare Foundation grantee Alexander Valley Healthcare reports similarly positive data from Cloverdale, Geyserville, and points north.
Two smaller grantee organizations, La Familia Sana and Reach for Home, have also been in the news recently for launching public, open-to-anyone, mobile or “pop-up” vaccine clinics. “At the end of the day, we need to get shots out,” said Margaret Sluyk, executive director of Reach For Home, which serves the unhoused population of northern Sonoma County. “It all comes down to shots in arms.”
In a unique collaboration encouraged by the Healthcare Foundation, Reach for Home offered a vaccine clinic on April 30 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Healdsburg and administered the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the local unhoused population--a group that had previously expressed serious mistrust of the vaccine. This pilot clinic, timed with St. Paul’s popular Friday shower ministry, resulted in 23 people choosing to get the vaccine, which Slyuk considered a huge success. Slyuk and her team offered a $25 gift card as an incentive for getting the vaccine—an approach that is proving effective across the U.S. with hesitant folks.
Reach for Home also gave out free tents, tarps and sleeping bags to attract more potential patients, along with fliers explaining what the vaccine is and its benefits.
“It’s important to meet our local unhoused population on their terms,” she said. “They are dealing with so much on a daily basis. Vaccines are not on the top of their minds. In order to make it easier for them to stay healthy and be a healthy part of the community, it’s important to bring the shot to where they are, and make it as easy as possible for them to get vaccinated.”
Reach for Home partnered with other local organizations to make the clinic happen. In addition to St. Paul’s and the Healthcare Foundation, those involved with the program were: Cheryl Fox Associates, Sonoma County Medical Associates, Healdsburg Shared Ministries and Healdsburg Rotary, who underwrote the sleeping bags and tents.
Reach for Home also partnered with St. Paul’s to provide patients with free dinner, overnight accommodations at the winter shelter, and free breakfast.
“Sometimes you feel yucky after you get the shot so we wanted to offer a safe landing space,” she said.
Another Healthcare Foundation grantee and grassroots organization, La Familia Sana (which translates into The Healthy Family), has organized a number of pop-up vaccine clinics throughout Northern Sonoma county.
The most recent of these clinics was in late April at the Cloverdale Family Apartments in Cloverdale, with more scheduled throughout May.
At this event, La Familia Sana booked 60 appointments and administered more than 30 vaccines—good numbers considering that a large percent of Cloverdale residents already had been vaccinated.
According to Zeke Guzman, the organization’s co-founder, the goal of these clinics is expressly to address hesitancy. Guzman said local farmworkers are particularly skeptical of the vaccine, so he and his staff line up volunteer clergy, doctors, and other counselors to be on hand to provide comfort and education.
Guzman noted that one skeptic spent 15 minutes talking to a priest and 20 minutes talking to a doctor before she was convinced the vaccine was safe enough to take.
“It comes down to community members hearing about the vaccine from people they trust,” Guzman said. “We need to not only educate the people who don’t want to take the vaccine, we need to educate the people trying to get them to take it. We need to better understand what [hesitant] people are feeling and what they are going through.”
All told, the local vaccination effort continues to exceed expectations. Healthcare Foundation grantees, with your help, are working hard to make sure that everyone who wants a vaccine gets it.
COVID VACCINE CLINICS IN NORTHERN SONOMA COUNTY AS OF MAY 12, 2020 - ALL ACCEPTING WALK-INS
Healdsburg: Healdsburg High School, 1094 Prince Street, accepting all walk-ins; Starting 5/11: Tues-Fri 9:30 - 12:30, 1:30 - 4:30
Cloverdale: Alexander Valley Healthcare Cloverdale Train Depot, Tue, Thur, Fri 9:00 - 4:00
Windsor: Town of Windsor Huerta Gym, 9291 Old Redwood Hwy, Starting 5/11: Tues-Fri: 9:30 - 12:30, 1:30 - 4:30
Windsor: Lady of Guadalupe, 8400 Old Redwood Hwy, Thurs & Fri: 12:00 - 6:00pm