HOMEDALE — Dozens lined up outside the cafeteria at Homedale Middle School on Friday, but not for lunch. Instead, the adults visiting the school were eagerly awaiting their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
One hundred residents received the vaccine Friday at the middle school, where Terry Reilly Health Services set up a vaccine clinic. The clinics, arranged by Jesus Blanco, outreach supervisor for Terry Reilly, aim to ensure rural and Latino communities are included in the vaccination rollout.
“It is all about access,” said Tami Fife, chief operating officer for Terry Reilly. “We are making sure the vaccine is accessible across the community to anyone that wants it. So (we are taking) it to where people live, work and worship.”
Aida Barroso received her vaccine Friday. She is the family migrant liaison for Homedale Middle School. Barroso is included in the second vaccination group, school district workers.
She said she was nervous to receive the vaccine, but figured it was up to her to do her part to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“You have to do it, you have to do it,” Barroso said, about the vaccine. “If we want things to get better, then we have to do our part so that we can start getting back to normal.”
Barroso said she is worried that the migrant farmworkers in Homedale and greater Owyhee County won’t get the vaccine, because it is inaccessible to them.
She said through the school district she is trying to send notices out to parents about vaccine clinics, like the Terry Reilly one on Friday.
Clinics such as Terry Reilly’s are important for populations such as farmworkers, Barroso said, because they are less likely to drive to hospitals such as St. Luke’s or Saint Alphonsus in Nampa or Boise.
In Idaho and the rest of the country, Latinos are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 compared to white people, previous Idaho Press reporting found. Latinos were also hospitalized for the virus at higher rates than white people in Idaho.
In states across the U.S., demographic data among people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine show lower rate of vaccinations in areas with large populations of Black and Latino residents. The Los Angles Times found last week there were significantly lower rates of vaccinations for health care workers who live in South L.A., where there are large populations of Black and Latino residents, than in other regions. AP also reported nationwide Latinos are lagging behind in vaccinations when compared with white people.
“The Latino community, rural and all of Canyon County are areas we are working on vaccine distribution, to making sure everyone has access,” Fife said. “We are trying to figure out where the Latino communities are, that we can bring the vaccine to them.”
Many people Friday mentioned transportation being a barrier to rural communities when it comes to obtaining the vaccine.
Rob Sauer, superintendent for the Homedale School District, said hosting the clinic at the school was an opportunity to get staff members and the wider community vaccinated without having to drive to another city.
“Driving to Nampa, Caldwell or Boise is not easy for people,” Sauer said. “I encouraged staff to go to clinics like Saltzer and St. Luke’s, but having it here gives people who can’t drive a chance to get it, if they want to.”
Charles Stuart, a Homedale resident, was in line to receive his vaccine on Friday. He said he had heard hesitancies from others about getting vaccinated, but he did not have any himself.
Stuart was in the 65-and-older group that Terry Reilly was starting to vaccinate last Friday. Statewide, eligibility for that group started Monday.
“I don’t want to be one of the names on the death charts,” Stuart said. “I also want to do my part to help others, to make sure I don’t know any names on the death charts.”
After he was inoculated and waiting in a second line to schedule a time for his second dose, Stuart said he felt fine and the vaccine was “just like a shot.”
Terry Reilly is planning to distribute the vaccine throughout Owyhee and Canyon counties, with planned clinics in Melba and Marsing. The clinic also plans to return to its previous clinic locations in four weeks to inoculate people with their second dose.