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Vaccine clinic in Washington County helps communities of color access COVID vaccinations

"This will give me an opportunity to feel a little more secure, a little more at peace for my husband and I," 68-year-old Lucia Reynolds said after getting her shot.

TIGARD, Oregon — Washington County is trying to get vaccines to those hardest to reach through multiple community clinics. As the county gets more vaccine, it will open more first-dose clinics. 

The county expects to vaccinate five to ten percent of the population mainly through vaccine clinics for people who don't have great access to health care systems and pharmacies.

The county is working with community partners and focusing on equity to provide vaccines to those who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including the Latinx and other BIPOC communities, as well as those experiencing poverty.

On Wednesday, Washington County held a vaccination clinic at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Tigard. It was one of many the county is organizing with various community partners and other government agencies to reach non-English speaking residents, communities of color and vulnerable populations.

In the Latinx community, being able to see people who look like them get a COVID-19 vaccine helped calm concerns.

RELATED: Oregon reaches 1 million vaccine doses given; state reports 27 new deaths

"I got my vaccine because I also want to be the example that it's safe and we want to be vaccinated," St. Anthony Catholic Church Deacon Marco Espinoza said.

"I've been in the house for almost a year and you feel almost trapped," Lucia Reynolds said. "So this will give me an opportunity to feel a little more secure, a little more at peace for my husband and I."

Groups holding the vaccine clinics reach out to their communities through email or by phone.

"After spending seven days on the internet trying to sign up, one of my friends at the Tigard City Hall said there are going to be some appointments here at St. Anthony. I said, 'Please sign me up!'"

Sixty-eight-year-old Reynolds walked just eight blocks from her house to get her shot.

Along with getting vaccinated at the event, Espinoza helped his church community sign up for vaccination appointments at the church.

"The community doesn't know how to sign up through the internet and they know this place," Espinoza added. "They just make a phone call to the office and the office will sign them up."

As people were coming out after getting their first doses of vaccine, they applauded the county for how organized it was.

Retired doctor Fred Williams volunteered with Washington County to help administer shots, saying this kind of life-saving work is why he wanted to become a physician in the first place.

"The convenience of it all is just so important because the people we're vaccinating a lot of them are elderly," Williams told KGW. "The goal is to get everybody vaccinated so the easier you make it for everybody the better."

From the layout to the appointment sign-up, he notes it's a contrast to mass vaccination sites in the Portland metro area.

"Over time we're going to find the community centers are working much better than the big ones, where people have to wait for long periods of time and organization is so difficult," Williams said.

Washington County and the City of Tigard posted appointments that weren't filled on their Spanish social media pages and websites. 

If you live in Washington County, are eligible to receive a shot and want to be vaccinated, the best advice is to keep an eye on the county website for slots at ten upcoming community clinics happening over the next four weeks. If you're eligible, you may even receive a phone call from the county or one of the other agencies it's working with.

The county website also translates into multiple different languages.