Published on October 14, 2021

A Sacred Mission

Enloe caregivers providing COVID-19 vaccines

Enloe Offers COVID Vaccines at Local Churches

When the notion of vaccinating parishioners at Cristo Salva Church against COVID-19 was presented to Pastor Carlos Palacios, he embraced the idea. Most were vaccinated, but he knew some weren’t — and some needed more information about the vaccines.

“I knew that some families were afraid of the vaccine, others didn’t know much about it and some didn’t know they could get vaccinated,” he said.

On Sept. 19, 2021, members of Enloe’s Community Outreach team arrived with clipboards and laptops in hand, ready to register attendees for the free vaccination clinic. Enloe’s mobile vaccination team was not far behind with vials of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines at the ready.

“Connecting with churches seemed like a great way to reach families, to make vaccines easily accessible and to build trust with the community we wanted to serve,” said Suzie Lawry-Hall, Enloe’s Community Outreach Manager.

Members of the Hispanic Resource Council of Northern California (HRCNC) joined them, including Promotores, a division of Northern Catholic Social Services, and Level Up, an organization that aims to improve the health of ethnic minorities. Those organizations handed out free masks and hand sanitizer, information on a variety of community resources from other HRCNC members, and gift cards to grocery stores.

A similar scene took place three weeks later at St. John the Baptist Catholic Parish, where HRCNC members provided the same services and resources, plus rosaries for the faithful. The clinics were the organization’s way of serving its community during the pandemic — a group that has been hit hard by COVID-19.

Changing Course

HRCNC has been a trusted staple in the Hispanic community for nearly 30 years. Its signature event, Día del Campesino, is known for celebrating field workers with a bounty of free education and health screenings, traditional Mexican treats, and more — drawing thousands of families. But with the pandemic came the need to cancel the event, said Reyna Nolta, HRCNC’s Event Chair.

“We didn’t want to create a super-spreader event, knowing that our community has lower vaccination rates and knowing that COVID-19 has affected so many of our families,” she said.

The COVID death rate for Latinos is 19% higher in California than statewide. In Butte County, Latinos make up 16.7% of the population, but account for 42% of cases as of Oct. 6, according to California’s Health Equity Dashboard.

After discussing the canceled event with its members, the idea of having pop-up vaccination clinics was born, and the group turned to churches — trusted places of influence among Hispanic families, said Suzie Lawry-Hall, Enloe’s Community Outreach Manager.

“Connecting with churches seemed like a great way to reach families, to make vaccines easily accessible and to build trust with the community we wanted to serve,” she said.

“At the Hispanic Resource Council, we try to inform our community, to let them know about issues that affect them, so they can make informed decisions,” said Humberto Rangel, an HRCNC member and a board member of Cristo Salva Church.

Making an Impact

Humberto Rangel, an HRCNC member and a board member of Cristo Salva Church, was happy to have vaccinations at his parish.

On the day of the clinic, Rangel said it was uplifting to see caregivers help parishioners in Spanish, answering questions, translating paperwork and helping them feel comfortable. He notes that while there is a lot of information about COVID-19 and the vaccines, some Hispanic families don’t know where to find that information or where to find it in Spanish.

“At the Hispanic Resource Council, we try to inform our community, to let them know about issues that affect them, so they can make informed decisions,” he said. “The people who got vaccinated at these clinics, they were informed. They knew the pros and cons, and they thought it was the right thing to do for them and for their loved ones.”