MERIDEN — Health officials’ localized effort to improve the city’s COVID-19 vaccination rates continues with a pop-up clinic Thursday at Casa Boricua’s headquarters.
The pop-up clinic, which is open to the public, will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 204 Colony St. Officials say there is no need to pre-register. Walk-ins are welcome. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be available.
As of June 30, the percentage of residents citywide who had begun the vaccination process was 56.5%, according to the state Department of Public Health. The percentage of residents who were fully vaccinated as of that date had reached 50.7%.
Detailed vaccination data over the months of May and June showed health officials and health providers in the city had made progress in addressing gaps in vaccination rates. The gaps were identified based on vaccine-eligible residents’ reported race or ethnicity and based on where they live.
For example, data from the end of June still showed that a smaller percentage — 42.3% — of Black city residents had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose than had white residents, at 51.9%.
Meanwhile, a previous gap in vaccination rates between white and Latino residents had narrowed, separated by 0.8 percentage points. As of June 30, 51.1% of Latino residents had received at least one dose.
Mapping of vaccination rates by census tract shows some of Meriden’s most socially vulnerable areas have lower rates of vaccination than the city’s less vulnerable areas. The determination of vulnerability is made using U.S. Census data that factors in several characteristics, including household income, density of housing, along with the prevalence of single-parent households, and the primary language spoken in those households.
So health officials and community leaders’ current efforts are steered toward reaching those considered highly vulnerable.
Casa Boricua Executive Director Anabel Beltrán Román, interviewed previously by the Record-Journal, had described personalized and grassroots approaches to persuading skeptical clients that they should consider getting vaccinated.
Beltrán Román responded to a followup email about Thursday’s clinic. She explained her agency, whose services are focused on Spanish speaking residents, is working to increase awareness about the clinic through “all possible means.”
“We've done word of mouth, Facebook posts, including a short video from Lea Crown, Health Department director, and myself,” Beltrán Román wrote. “We have also done some door knocking in Meriden neighborhoods and asked some local establishments and agencies to share our flyer.”
Crown said Casa Boricua has been a “fantastic” partner in her agency’s vaccination efforts, particularly the agency’s leader, Beltrán Román.
“Anabel has my number on speed dial,” Crown said. “She finds someone who needs a vaccine and she’s able to connect them. She’s been my great connector in the community.”
Crown said the city’s current vaccination program is focused on mobilized mini-clinics, which the city and its partners are able to bring on the road to the public.
For example, on Friday, John Barry Elementary School, 124 Columbia St., will host its own vaccine clinic. The school will host a second clinic on July 30. Officials identified Barry as one of the city’s busiest summer lunch distribution sites.
Crown said bringing the vaccine to such places, thus making it more accessible and easier to obtain, requires “a lot of coordination.”