UC Davis Health opened two more COVID-19 community partner vaccination clinics in Sacramento this week, further solidifying its commitment to improving the health of vulnerable populations during the deadly pandemic.
UC Davis Health now provides free COVID-19 vaccines and the personnel to administer the shots to three community vaccination sites:
- La Familia Counseling Center in South Sacramento, which opened Thursday.
- St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in the Oak Park neighborhood, which opened Wednesday.
- A third clinic, at City Church of Sacramento, also in Oak Park, that opened March 12.
The three clinics combined will eventually immunize about 500 people each week.
The senior pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, a venerable institution for 73 years, is ecstatic about the partnership with UC Davis Health, which converts his fellowship hall into a vaccination clinic every Wednesday.
“UC Davis Medical Center has been there for years serving our community, and St. Paul, we’ve been here for 73 years. I think it was just a match made in heaven for us to work together,” said Senior Pastor Kenneth Reece, minutes after receiving his vaccine.
His wife, Lisa Reece, also got her COVID-19 shot. She said the couple looked forward to telling church members that the vaccine is safe and effective.
Statistics during the pandemic have made it abundantly clear that Latinos and Blacks are the racial and ethnic groups most compromised by coronavirus, with a disproportionate number of deaths and infections.
UC Davis Health has been eager to partner with the two churches and La Familia Counseling Center because they are trusted institutions with strong community ties to their diverse neighborhoods.
La Familia is a well-known non-profit organization off Franklin Boulevard that provides mental health services, employment training, adult education and youth services, often to immigrants and refugees. La Familia has partnered with other organizations for COVID-19 testing and pop-up vaccinations, but the UC Davis Health connection provides a stable presence by holding a clinic every Thursday.
Most of the people who are receiving the vaccine at the partnership clinics are making their appointments by phone and in-person, as opposed to logging on by computer.
Gloria Torres, a community health worker at La Familia who helped escort patients from the injection room to the observation room, said the partnership with UC Davis “really makes me feel we are all saving lives” in a community that is struggling.
“For me to see the people come in, especially that live in the heart of our community, it really humbled me,” she said, “because these are people who don’t have that opportunity to get the vaccine. Either they don’t know where to go, they don’t have the language, or they already have different obstacles in front of them.”
Oscar Jimenez, a Colombian immigrant who works at least three jobs, has lost family members to COVID-19. He tried repeatedly to sign up for the vaccine at difference places, including in the Bay Area, but failed to connect with anyone who could help. When he learned about the new clinic at La Familia, near his home, he left a phone message and was promptly registered.
“I’m one of the fortunate,” he said, “because there are a lot of people trying to get the vaccine.”
Xee Vang, who contracted COVID-19 late last year, was relieved to get vaccinated at La Familia. Once he’s fully vaccinated, he looks forward to hiking and fishing again. “Hopefully everyone gets vaccinated so that everything opens up again.”
Over the next two months, UC Davis Health plans to provide several thousand doses of Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the three clinics.
Susan Perry, one of the leaders of the UC Davis Health effort, said the community vaccination clinics are reaching a population who wouldn’t be vaccinated otherwise. “At UC Davis Health we firmly believe that vaccines should be available to everyone,” she said, “and are grateful to our community partners who are helping us make this possible.”