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Teens help outreach clinic vaccinate elderly Hispanic and Latinx Coloradans

Organizers hope to vaccinate 1,000 Coloradans this weekend in a drive-through clinic at St. Cajetan Catholic Church in west Denver.

DENVER — At St. Cajetan Catholic Church in Denver, a youth group is joining forces with community leaders and National Jewish Hospital to target vaccine efforts at elderly, Hispanic Coloradans.

Together, they hosted a drive-through vaccine clinic for Coloradans 70 and up.

"While everyone is welcome, we are specifically targeting elderly Latino people who are eligible for the vaccine," Angela Cobian, Denver Board of Education treasurer, said.

Cobian pointed to the disparity in vaccine distribution in Colorado to explain the need for targeted outreach.

"It was really important for us to do that culturally competent outreach to people who we know, to our elders in the community, and to be able to make that ask and invitation of them to get the vaccine in a place they trust," Cobian said.

Melanie Valadez, a junior at John F. Kennedy High School, and her youth group played a key role in that outreach, calling hundreds of seniors in their community. 

"I’m doing it because I want to help these people, and I want them to feel safer," Valadez said.

According to Valadez and Cobian, the clinic's location played a critical role in ensuring safety and trust. 

As Valadez said, the church community spans generations; the elders "trust the fathers and the fathers who were before them."

Governor Jared Polis came to the event and praised the youth for what they were doing for the community. 

"[The event is] really incredible to see, and I think it'll inspire a whole new generation of folks to go into the medical fields."

Organizers hoped to vaccinate 1,000 Coloradans by the end of the weekend and on Saturday said they were well on track to do so.  

Like other similar clinics in the state, the drive-through was by appointment only. 

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