How a health center leads Chicago in children’s COVID injections

How a health center leads Chicago in children’s COVID injections


When the medical assistant put on rubber gloves to prepare the syringe, 5-year-old Victoria Macias, wearing a pink Minnie mask and white shirt, turned her head and closed her eyes.

“It won’t hurt, right? I will hold your hand, I will hold your hand,” said her 8-year-old sister Alondra. “Take a deep breath, take a deep breath.

Medical assistant Rachel Blancas poked Victoria’s left arm for about a second. Victoria opened her eyes. As a result, the Macias sisters became one of the first 5 to 11-year-old children to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the largest city in the Midwest.

Their mother, Maria Lopez, took them out of school early last Thursday and went to a mass immunization site on the southwest side of Chicago. “They have obtained all the other vaccines available, so why not have this?” said Lopez, a 43-year-old real estate agent.

Esperanza Health centerAccording to the Chicago Department of Public Health, the non-profit health service that operates the website has been Chicago’s top pediatric COVID vaccine supplier, and has administered approximately 10,000 immunizations to children between 12 and 17 years of age.Now that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized Pfizer’s BioNTech injections for children aged 5-11, the organization’s efforts may provide lessons for other parts of the United States Work hard to vaccinate children.

“People in the community trust us,” said Veronica Flores, Esperanza’s COVID response manager. The company has 5 medical clinics, regardless of insurance or immigration status. Can receive patients. “When the pandemic started, we were one of the first to test.”

She pointed out that on one occasion, Esperanza was responsible for more than half of all COVID tests in the city. After the COVID, the number of patients at this federally qualified medical center (about 90% are Hispanics) doubled.

Everyone who works with patients at Esperanza is bilingual.Immunization point already Extension of time And it’s open five days a week, including those who don’t have an appointment. The clinic will even pay patients for Uber rides for vaccinations.

If parents or guardians have questions or concerns about pediatric vaccines, Esperanza will contact them with one of the doctors.

PhD. Mark Minier, The director of pediatric medicine, tried to reassure patients by telling them that the injected dose was lower than the dose for teenagers and adults, and found that both were Safe and effective Suitable for children from 5 to 11 years old. Relatively mild side effects may include pain at the injection site, headache, and fatigue that may last for a day or two. In addition, he reminded them that children are at risk of contracting the virus.

“Approximately 2 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and approximately 170 people have died,” Minier said. “That’s still too much. If we have anything to help prevent children from dying due to COVID or any form of morbidity, then we should do it.”

Cynthia Galvan, a medical assistant who lives in nearby Esperanza, took her 10-year-old son Andres to receive an injection on Thursday. She hopes this will ensure that her family has a better Thanksgiving than last year, when several of her relatives were infected with COVID-19.

“Except for him, everyone in the family has been vaccinated,” said Cynthia, 34. “We have 10 people.”

Chicago’s vaccination rate 58.2% of 12 to 17 years old are higher than National average About 50%, mainly because of the work of community health centers like Esperanza, the city health commissioner Dr. Alison AwadiThey are not only familiar with the local language and culture, but also the place where the whole family may be vaccinated, starting with their grandparents last winter.

“We know that the biggest predictor of whether a child is vaccinated is whether the parent or guardian is vaccinated,” Arwady said.

She remains worried that the estimated 750,000 residents of the city are not immune to COVID. The young Chicago black lags behind other groups in terms of vaccination, and she is worried that an outbreak may occur in those unvaccinated networks this winter.

“Anyway, your immune system is likely to learn the lessons of COVID, and maybe in the next few months,” Arwady said. “So either get the vaccine in a safer way, or risk the chance of getting infected.”

The city is working hard to increase vaccination rates by offering a $100 gift card, giving free vaccinations to anyone who wants to get vaccinated at home, and letting all public school children get vaccinated during the holiday this Friday.

Last week, Esperanza Health Center sent text messages to the families of its approximately 8,000 patients aged 5 to 11 to let their parents know that vaccines are available.The organization began distributing vaccines to young children on Wednesday morning, just a few hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Gave final approval. They will start the second dose within three weeks.

“I hate shooting,” 7-year-old Benicio Decker said when playing games on his iPad in the waiting area of ??the clinic on Thursday. “The only time I like shooting is when we have finished eating ice cream.”

But the second-year Chicago student said that he was willing to endure a little discomfort, “because I want to protect my family, me, my friends, and my teachers.”

In the cool autumn afternoon, families with young children walk in and out of this old 23,000-square-foot, well-ventilated gymnasium with hanging fluorescent lights and blue-spotted rubber floors. As Disney songs played on the speakers, the children stopped to take pictures in front of the astronaut-themed balloon-covered photo background set in the health center.

“They do a great job of providing information where people are,” said Benicio’s mother, Esmid Maria, 39. “They post flyers in restaurants, laundromats and grocery stores. They don’t want people to come to them.”

Esperanza also opened temporary vaccine clinics in local schools and parks.

De Maria said that she did not encounter waiting lists like in other parts of the city. She even invited the health center to teach vaccine workshops to colleagues from local community organizations.

De Maria said that Esperanza is a trusted institution in most Hispanic areas of the city, and the name of the health center means “hope” in Spanish. In chicago with Nationwide, Latinos are less likely to be vaccinated with the coronavirus than whites and Asians, although the gap is narrowing.

“Historically, people of color have every right to be vigilant about vaccination,” De Maria said, noting that many women in her ancestral Puerto Rico were forced to accept it. Disinfected in the 20th century“Doubt is embedded in our DNA.”

But she said that for the benefit of the community, she hopes that everyone will consider vaccination. “It’s not just for him,” she said, pointing to Benicio.

At the vaccine station, medical assistant Blancas told Benicio that the injection felt like being bitten by a mosquito. “You are really brave. You earn ice cream,” his mother said.

When Blancas stabbed Benicio’s arm with a needle, the boy clutched his Batman teddy bear tightly and let out a quiet “Oh”. Later, he said he just felt a little tight.

“You are officially vaccinated,” his mother told him, and he sat in the observation area and played on his phone for 15 minutes to make sure he didn’t have any dangerous allergic reactions. “He will be one of the first children in school to be vaccinated. He is a little superhero.”

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

This story first appeared in Caesars Health News.

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