‘It’s going to help us’: City brings COVID-19 vaccination clinic to underserved West Long Beach

Irma Macedo, 65, is no stranger to syringes and needles after working as a lab technician in Mexico before coming to the United States.

On Saturday she chuckled as she watched a Long Beach City College nursing student prepare a dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“How are you feeling, are you nervous?” the nursing volunteer asked Macedo in Spanish.

Macedo said she wasn’t nervous, but added that other Latino community members are hesitant to take the vaccine.

“I feel really happy, because I think it’s something that’s for our own good,” Macedo said. “It’s going to protect us.”

Macedo was one of 500 individuals who received a COVID-19 vaccine Saturday at the first mobile clinic hosted by members of the Long Beach Health and Human Services Department. The clinic was held at Silverado Park in West Long Beach.

Long Beach has already begun mass vaccinations of workers and residents at super sites like the city’s convention center. This smaller clinic was an attempt from the city to inoculate residents in areas that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and underserved neighborhoods.

City data shows that North, West and Central Long Beach have the highest rates of infection. These communities are also home to mostly Black, Latino and Pacific Islander residents in dense neighborhoods.

Yet these areas have among the lowest vaccination rates in the city.

Alice Castellanos, the city’s chief of operations for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, said attendees scheduled to come to the smaller clinic were pulled from the city’s vaccine registration website, VaxLB, based on the primary language they chose when they signed up. The Silverado clinic hosted Spanish-speaking volunteers to help the mostly Latino patients.

The list was also compiled with assistance from local nonprofits who helped seniors who did not have access to the internet to sign up for appointments via phone calls.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia visited the clinic and spoke with some of the patients waiting in line.

“It’s important to reach residents from across the city and to get vaccines into lower income and high-risk communities,” Garcia said.

With countries around the world racing to inoculate their citizens, vaccine doses continue to be in short supply. Though the city has plans to create similar small-scale clinics in neighborhoods with mostly Cambodian and Filipino residents, officials can’t schedule a time and place until they know the exact number of doses they will receive.

“Where there’s a lack of access we have to meet people where they are,” Castellanos said.

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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