Yolanda Avila and Robert Nartker at the Peak Vista Equity Vaccine Clinic event Feb. 19.

District 4 City Council Representative Yolanda Avila received the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine during Peak Vista Community Health Center’s Equity Vaccine Clinic on Feb. 19. Peak Vista administered 1,100 doses of the Moderna vaccine as part of its Equity Vaccine Clinic, targeting the Black, Hispanic and Latino populations in Colorado Springs.

“When we look at Peak Vista and our mission in the community to serve everyone and ensure there’s no access barriers to health care, that also pours over into the vaccine as well,” said Robert Nartker, Peak Vista’s chief operating officer. “We want to make sure we make a special emphasis to understand and ensure that all of those who need a vaccine, that we’ve actually reached out to them. Our emphasis today and tomorrow is to make sure that we are reaching those communities: the African American, Hispanic and Latino communities, so that they have opportunity to receive the vaccine as well. ... In conjunction with our other health care partners throughout Colorado Springs, Peak Vista has worked very diligently in making sure that we reach out to those communities and provide that vaccine to them.”

“I thought it would be a lot more painful,” said Avila. “I am a baby when it comes to shots, but it was a breeze. I think it’s important that I do this, for any of those people out there who might have some hesitancy around it.”

Avila said it’s important for providers like Peak Vista to reach out to minority communities.

“White individuals are three times more likely to get the vaccine than Latinos, and twice as likely to get it than our African American brothers and sisters,” she said. “It’s important, and we are more impacted by COVID. We have more COVID-positive cases. I was talking to Joel Yuhas from UCHealth, who said that one-third of the patients who are dying from COVID are Latino, so it’s to make sure there’s equity involved.

“We’re on the front lines, we have a lot of interactions and a lot of us take the bus. We live in multigenerational housing, so it’s so important that we get out there, we get vaccinated to get this virus behind us.”

The weekend of Feb. 19 also marked a milestone for El Paso County Public Health, which reported that 100,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered.

“Our goal is to meet people where they are and bring easy, accessible services throughout El Paso County communities. We want all residents to have the opportunity to live healthy lives and have easy access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” El Paso County Public Health Director Susan Wheelan said in a news release.

“We are committed to making this happen by working with our many partners — including the El Paso County Vaccine Consortium — to expand access to the vaccine as broadly as possible, as supplies allow and are distributed by the state. We are grateful for the efforts of Servicios de la Raza and countless volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps, American Red Cross, Community Emergency Response Team, EMT, medical, health care and many others to make this weekend’s event a success.” 

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.