Despite the obstacles they face, thousands of elderly citizens from the Hispanic community gathered at St. Cajetan Parish in Denver to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Language, technology, transportation and even mistrust for the vaccine are just some of the difficulties Hispanics face when deciding to get vaccinated. However, thanks to Father Angel Perez and the dozens of volunteers from St. Cajetan Parish whom encouraged them to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, elderly from the community were able to attend a drive-thru clinic at the church during the weekend of Feb. 5 and get vaccinated.
Linda Sosa, parishioner at St. Cajetan for more than 30 years, was one of the first people to support this initiative, and along with Father Perez, they managed to get nearly 2,000 people to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Many of our people don’t have health insurance, do not know how to register online, and don’t speak English,” Sosa told the Denver Catholic. “All these obstacles stop them from seeking help all together. This is one of the main reasons this initiative started.”
Among the dozens of volunteers for the drive-thru clinic, young adults and teens from the parish joined the cause by making phones calls to register the thousands of Hispanic elderly citizens and guiding them through the event.
“I am so proud of them,” Sosa said. “These youths from our parish are doing incredible social work. I told them, ‘remember that Jesus gave his apostles the power to heal and sent them to cure the lepers. Apply what you have learned by taking action as well.’”
Colorado Governor Jared Polis also made a point to visit the vaccine clinic and commended the parish’s efforts in getting vaccines to the elderly.
“Vaccines are our gateway to saving lives and getting back to the Colorado we love,” Gov. Polis said in a press release. “It was wonderful to visit with community members and providers on the frontlines of this race against the clock. My administration is laser-focused on making sure the vaccine is quickly and equitably distributed which is why we are getting out in the community, working with community-based groups to reduce hesitancy, meeting people where they are at, and working hard to get more shots into more arms.”
For Sosa, the Church represents the trust and hope the community needs in order to feel safe and encouraged to receive the vaccine that could save lives, while the volunteer work of the youth represents the future of the Church.
“They are between 16 and 18 years old, they are very talented, and they’re the future of the Church,” she said. “I always try to get young people involved because serving is what makes you feel alive.”
According to the City of Denver, the number of Hispanics who are eligible and who have received the COVID-19 vaccine is very low compared to the white population. However, these type of community events, especially at parishes, have encouraged people to reach out for help and get vaccinated.
“Do not be afraid, come and follow the vaccination process,” said Sosa. “Put your arm and participate because you are saving lives and saving your families.”
Sosa also mentioned that there will be more vaccination clinics, but for now, their priority is to apply the second dose to all of those who were part of the first round and have received their first dose.