DENVER — The difference is staggering.
“59% of Denver residents aged 16 or older who are white have initiated the vaccine and have gotten their first dose compared to 25% Latino or Latina individuals who are aged 16 or older,” said Infectious Disease Specialist for Denver Health, Sarah Rowan.
Those numbers from Denver Health show a small picture of how quickly Denver’s Latino population is getting vaccinated.
“Ideally vaccines would match disease burden so 45 to 50% of the cases of COVID in our community have occurred in individuals who are Latino or Latina while a small fraction of the vaccines have gone to individuals who identify as Latino or Latina or Latinx and I think that is a pretty large gap,” said Rowan.
Loa Esquilin with Denver’s Office of Emergency Management says they’re aware of the numbers and are addressing them.
“So we’re aware of that gap and what we’re doing is we’re working really hard on bridging that gap,” said Esquilin.
That’s why the City of Denver decided to open up vaccination sites in the heart of several communities. They also provide Lyft rides and offer Spanish-speaking staff to help answer any questions.
“We’re actively working on expanding those sites to see more doses to have extended operation hours. So that’s a strategy we’re actively working on to make sure we get that barrier out of the way,” said Esquilin.
One concept that could potentially change in the future is allowing people to show up without needing an appointment but those are state sites. For now, no Denver vaccination site is set up for that.
But in Stanley Marketplace, it’s something Tran Wills, who owns the salon Base Coat, was able to get going.
“I was approved with the governor’s vaccine for All initiative to hold a vaccine clinic we did yesterday and then today till five,” said Wills.
Wills says its these kinds of clinics that give people more flexibility.
“You don’t need an ID, you don’t need insurance. I was trying to remove all the obstacles that I am seeing now with people having a hard time finding vaccines and making sure that it was equitable across the board,” said Wills.
For Simone Pier who took advantage of this clinic, it’s a concept she’d like to see in other communities.
“This is one small community that needs the help but there is plenty throughout the Denver-metro-area,” said Pier.
As the weeks go on, the push to get as many people vaccinated as possible will continue. The ways in which it is accomplished could also continue to change based on the need of certain communities.