As new COVID-19 vaccine sites open up, there is still a big effort to help vaccinate those in our underserved populations. Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) is doing just that.
Carlos Segura received a COVID-19 vaccine at his local health center, something that would’ve been difficult otherwise because of a language barrier. A local health center, NOAH, is helping solve that barrier and many others.
"Some of our community members may not have internet access or a computer to be able to access information on the internet or on a website. We also know that English proficiency may be limited, so we have our scheduling team, our callers, who are bilingual and can help in Spanish. If there are other languages, we are happy to assist. There’s also transportation issues,” says Wendy Armendariz, CEO of NOAH.
NOAH has been offering vaccines since February, serving 300 to 600 people a week. Recently, they were selected to be part of a special program. NOAH is one of four health centers in Maricopa County receiving more vaccines to cater to medically underserved communities and disproportionately affected populations. Now they are serving about 2,000 a week.
"The strategy continues to make sure that everyone has equal access and there is equity in the distribution of vaccines in our communities,” says Armendariz.
Come next month, they will be increasing efforts even more with a mobile team. They plan on going into the community to serve those hard-to-reach areas.
"We’re hearing a lot from the small businesses in the area, from churches, that also want to make sure their community members have access to the vaccines,” says Armendariz.
According to the AZDHS dashboard, only 10.9% of the Hispanic population in Arizona has been vaccinated when they make up 30% of all COVID cases.
Dr. Shad says that is why the state and county should be focusing on outreach together.
"Just look at all the zip codes that have had the most devastating, highest percentage of hospitalizations, cases and deaths from COVID, and then make those neighborhoods a priority. Find ways of getting into those neighborhoods and do some community organizing and educational campaigns. Then have the mobile clinics deployed there and work out of the parking lots and churches and community centers because that’s where it’s at,” says Dr. Shad Marvasti, University of Arizona, College of Medicine.
NOAH has vaccinated about 10,000 people so far. They currently have appointments at five of their clinic locations. You can sign up here.