Editor's note: This story was produced in conjunction with the Latino Communities Reporting Lab.
MERIDEN — Casa Boricua hosted a vaccination clinic last week to encourage members of the Latino community to get vaccinated.
“We partnered with the Meriden Health Department because I feel it’s important for Casa Boricua to do our part in fighting against the virus,” said Anabel Beltrán Román, Casa Boricua executive director. “It’s our mission at Casa Boricua to help those who come to us.”
Prior to the Thursday clinic, Maria Serrano Palazzo, former Casa Boricua board member, notified surrounding Latino households and restaurants about the clinic.
“It’s important to let our people know that we care about their health and want them to be safe from this virus,” said Palazzo, who went to the homes and businesses in person. “The community needs to know that Casa Boricua is always going to be here for them.”
Casa Boricua, a nonprofit, provides education, health and other services to Latinos in the greater Meriden area.
Palazzo said she wants to help community members who have fears about receiving the vaccine. She recommends they talk with a doctor if they have concerns and not rely on potential misinformation online.
“Please get the right information,” she said.
Meriden’s Department of Health offered both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine during the clinic, which ran for 90 minutes. Appointments for second doses were also scheduled.
Lea Crown, the city’s director of Health and Human Services, said the health department is still seeing one to three new COVID cases each day, mostly those who have not been vaccinated.
Crown said the Department of Health has done 72 clinics so far and given out nearly 13,000 doses of the vaccine since Dec. 23.
“We are doing our part and it’s great because we have made our clinics accessible to those who need it,” said Crown.
Crown said the city is striving to make the process easy for individuals who want the vaccine. Clinics, like those at Casa Boricua, have bilingual staff and volunteers.
Aaliyah Johnson, a Maloney High School student, went to Casa Boricua with her mother, Sandra Johnson, to get their first dose.
“I got the vaccine because I want to be able to go back to school safely next year,” said Johnson. They both made the decision to get the vaccine once they heard that schools might make it mandatory for students to return to in person classes.
Crown advises all students to get the vaccine before returning to school in the fall.
“We want students to protect themselves and plan ahead,” she said. “It takes weeks to become fully vaccinated.”
The Spanish Community of Wallingford will host a vaccine clinic on July 21 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 284 Washington St, Wallingford.