La Clinica and JaCo Public Health working to vaccinate underserved populations

MEDFORD, Ore. – A Jackson Co. clinic is one of seven health centers statewide given extra COVID vaccine doses for those most affected by COVID-19 minorities. La Clinica has been in the Rogue Valley since 1989 helping those who have disproportionate access to healthcare.

Since the pandemic started the Oregon Health Authority has reported the Latinx community is nearly 3x more likely to get COVID, compared to other minority groups in Jackson Co.

Yet only 4% of the Latinx population statewide has gotten the vaccine. La Clinica’s goal is to close that gap.

Late in last week, seven Oregon clinics were chosen by the OHA to get extra federal vaccine doses. The goal, to get more minority groups vaccinated.

“Throughout the pandemic people of color have been impacted largely and demographically than other people, “said Brenda Johnson, La Clinica’s CEO.

Johnson told NBC5 before this program its clinics could only give 300 doses per week. Now they are working their way to vaccinating 1,000 per week.

“It’s a lot of work. There’s a lot of demand and not a lot of supply and we’re all trying to figure out creative ways to do it super efficiently, effectively, and quickly as possible, “said Johnson.

La Clinica isn’t just working on rolling out vaccines it’s also working on community outreach. Jackson Co. Public Health is aiding in the effort.

“We have to work to gain their trust,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson Co. Public Health Director.

Dr. Shames said it’s important for health care officials to meet people where they are at. It’s work that’s not only important for people’s immediate community, but for society as a whole.

“This is being brought to light again by the pandemic. We’re very aware that Latinos, for example, which is the most represented minority group in our community have almost 3x the rate of COVID,” said Dr. Shames.

National studies have shown people of color are less likely to get a vaccine.

“There’s a long history of inadequate focus on groups that are disadvantaged one way or another. So health care disparities relating to ethnicity and race have been common throughout history,” said Dr. Shames.

That’s why both the Oregon Health Authority and Jackson Co. Public Health are running ads on TV and radio to help close the gap and ensure everyone is safe, especially those most vulnerable.

La Clinica said they are still working out the details on the extra vaccine rollout.

Current people eligible will come first, then an expansion to the Latinx community. Call La Clinica if you have any questions

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