Event helps Eastside residents get vaccinated

Concern for their families motivated several Eastside residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on Aug. 21 at a neighborhood event, billed as the Neighborhood Vaccination and Health Check.

Having the event at midday on a Saturday, and at an Eastside Kansas City location, made the shots more accessible, some of those getting vaccinated said. Clear explanations of how the vaccines work and what to expect from the shots also helped ease residents’ concerns.

One of the first people to get vaccinated was Nicolas Alvarez, who works for the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council maintaining its properties.

“I’ve been meaning to get vaccinated, and this was the perfect opportunity,” he said. “I live with my parents, and I didn’t want them to get COVID.”

He was joined in getting vaccinated by his girlfriend and his younger brother. “And there’s another event like this Sept. 11, where we can get our second shots,” Alvarez said.

Throughout the day, several people from the area joined him in getting vaccinated or being tested for COVID-19, and being screened for other health issues including high blood pressure and diabetes.

Because of its large parking area, the Ivanhoe Council played host to the event, in collaboration with the Our Healthy KC Eastside project. The Santa Fe Area Council, the Key Coalition and the Boston Heights and Mount Hope Neighborhood Association also took part.

The event was staffed in part by UMKC students from the health sciences district, many of whom have been trained to administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Their ability to answer questions about the vaccine eased 18-year-old Marcus Martin’s decision to get his first shot. “They explained everything,” Martin said, “which helped because I was a little nervous.”

Concern for his family was also a big motivator, said Martin, who came to the event with his mother and sister.

“Everybody else at home is vaccinated now,” he said, “and I didn’t want to possibly hurt them.”

Our Healthy KC Eastside is partnering with neighborhood associations, churches, businesses and youth organizations and will be holding several more vaccine and preventive health care events through November. The project came about when Jackson County granted $5 million of its federal CARES Act COVID-fighting money to UMKC to promote vaccinations and other health services.

Our Healthy KC Eastside is led by Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., a UMKC professor who also heads the UMKC Health Equity Institute and Community Health Research Group.