A coronavirus testing site in West Seattle that has been converted into a three-day pop-up vaccination clinic is set to provide doses to 750 elders in South Park and West Seattle, with a focus on the hard-hit Latino community.
Latinos are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. While they represent 10% of King County’s population, Latino residents account for 24% of confirmed COVID-19 cases and 18% of hospital stays, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said at a news conference Thursday morning.
On Thursday, 144 people received vaccinations in an area of tan shipping containers. Spanish translators were available at the entrance for patients with limited English skills.
Overall, according to Brian Wallace of the Seattle Fire Department, the location has carried out over 71,000 tests for the coronavirus.
The City of Seattle’s goal to make the West Seattle site a permanent vaccination center for the community depends on the availability of vaccines. Some of this week’s offer was in transit due to bad weather, Durkan said.
“We know that the city of Seattle’s road to recovery begins and can only happen with vaccinations,” Durkan said. “And we also know that we have to work hard to ensure that vaccinations are distributed fairly and that we get to the communities that are hardest hit by the disease.”
Eligible elders were contacted and registered for the pop-up clinic through the Seattle Immigration and Refugee Affairs Office and the Elderly and Disabled Services Department, as well as the community organizations El Comite, Villa Comunitaria, the West Seattle Seniors Center, and Seattle Housing Authority .
Since the pandemic began, the nonprofit Villa Comunitaria has helped educate customers about the coronavirus and the vaccine, said Gray Garrido, the organization’s systems navigation coordinator. The South Park-based organization provides food and housing, as well as resources such as labor law and health programs to the King County’s Latino community, with an emphasis on undocumented people.
“In many cases, the language surrounding this vaccine and virus has been very alienating and difficult to understand for our undocumented people,” Garrido said at the press conference.
This week, the City of Seattle, in partnership with the Archdiocese of Seattle, is hosting a second pop-up vaccination site in Hillman City to offer doses to 350 Latino elders.
The vaccination process has been difficult for elders to control without access to technology, the internet, digital skills, or transportation. Language barriers have also been a problem for immigrants and refugees attempting to access Phase Finder – the state Department of Health’s tool for determining eligibility for vaccinations – as it is currently only displayed in English and Spanish.
Seattle Times photographer Alan Berner contributed to this report.
206-464-2168 or [email protected]; on Twitter: @M_Hellmann. Seattle Times staff reporter Melissa Hellmann covers South Seattle and South King Counties with an emphasis on marginalized communities.