Vaccine Voices: “You matter. You deserve it. That’s how we serve our community.”  

With 500 vaccination clinics and counting, the Vaccine Operations Team Equity’s (VOTE) mission is to help communities throughout Oregon access, understand and feel more confident about getting vaccinated. VOTE’s work is especially critical for people in Oregon disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and those who have historically faced health disparities.    

To reach its goal, VOTE collaborates with more than 150 community-based organizations to reach people through trusted community partners that bring energy, creativity and dedication to those they serve. To capture that spirit, we took a peek inside some vaccination events through the eyes of a few of VOTE’s community partners. 

Christine Sanders is the director of community health programs and services at East County Community Health (ECCH). With vaccine clinics that offer live music, giveaways, free food and drink and lots of fun, the message is, “Welcome! Come on in and relax,” said Sanders. “Get your vaccine with ECCH but stay and enjoy the festivities. You matter. You deserve it. That’s how we serve our community.” Christine shared some of the day’s activities: 

“ECCH resides in the heart of the Rockwood Community. Though we provide vaccine clinics to our neighbors and community members, ECCH also recognizes the need for self-care, family-friendly fun and a relaxed, safe atmosphere for ALL to enjoy during this challenging time. Our clinics provide free haircuts for struggling families who may not have extra money to pay for this service. Painting nails for youth – a nice set of sparking nails always brings a smile to a youth’s face. Free balloons, popcorn and cotton candy. It’s not exactly a real fair but the laughter and fun make it seem so!” 

Community members at a recent vaccine event co-created by VOTE and East County Community Health.

Chelsea Peterson is a COVID-19 outreach and education coordinator at Metropolitan Family Services (MFS), a group that breaks down the barriers of poverty, inequity and social isolation through programs that support parents and students, older residents and working families, connecting them to vital resources. Chelsea shared her reflections on one of their recent community vaccine clinics: 

“On December 14 we partnered with Legacy and the Centennial School District to host our second-dose vaccine clinic for youth at Oliver Elementary. All community members were invited, and Legacy provided COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses. We had some wonderful interpreters from Oregon Health Authority (OHA) that helped translate for our Russian-, Somali-, Spanish-, and Vietnamese-speaking community members. Attendees were excited to receive Subway to take home, and Legacy provided ice cream. MFS also provided PPE and printed outreach materials for families. Overall, we distributed 149 vaccine doses – a huge success for our community and a wonderful way to end a challenging year!” 

Children’s Community Clinic (CCC) provides high-quality and compassionate healthcare to socially disadvantaged and underserved children (birth to age 21) who are uninsured or underinsured, regardless of ethnicity, residence or ability to pay.   

CCC held VOTE’s 500th vaccine clinic with a mini-vaccine hub that provided a warm, welcoming, safe and familiar location for the African American and African communities they serve. Of course, as Sokhna Mbodj, CCC’s public relations and marketing coordinator said, “Everyone is welcome!” 

The mini-vaccine hub provided vaccinations for 174 people, not to mention plenty of happiness and goodies. Kids received backpacks full of school supplies, skincare products and and masks, and exercise kits and food boxes were also distributed. Younger children were given coloring books donated by the Children’s Healing Art Project (CHAP). Additionally, the Multnomah County Library donated books for families. CCC believes children “who don’t have a place to go, have a really great place to go.” And, they do.

Learn more about VOTE