Organizations partner to bring vaccines to Will County Black and brown communities

thetimesweekly.com | 3/31/2021, 10:21 a.m.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), in collaboration with the COVID-19 Justice and Equity for Will County Campaign will ...

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), in collaboration with the COVID-19 Justice and Equity for Will County Campaign will host a vaccination clinic from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 1 at Azteca de Oro banquet hall. Organizers said 600 vaccines will be available at this clinic. In order to obtain an appointment, one must first fill out an interest form. To register follow this link bit.ly/ittakesavillage2021.

The lack of access to information in one’s preferred language, access to reliable transportation, and access to the internet serve as structural barriers to many in Will County’s multilingual, multicultural, and multiethnic communities, organizers said. According to organizers, these factors have resulted in communities of color receiving the vaccine at lower rates than their representative percentages in the County. The time is now to address these concerns as the County risks leaving many behind once the state opens appointments to everyone on April 12, they said.

This vaccination clinic seeks to address these inequities by directly serving those whom COVID-19 has most directly impacted. To meet this goal, the campaign will be prioritizing essential workers of color who live in zip codes with the highest positive case ratios in Will County. This focus highlights the Campaign's goal of removing structural barriers to access in highly impacted communities. Veronica Ibarra, a Romeoville resident and leader at Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project, said over the past year, much work has been required to be sure all communities are equitably served.

“Without this effort, many will be left out of relief. Our communities feel most cared for when our individual needs are addressed and met and when our individual cultures and languages are seen as equally important,” she said.

Moving forward, it is crucial that health services providers intentionally engage community-based organizations to address pandemic recovery, Ibarra said, adding that community-based organizations have been on the frontline of response for much of the pandemic, and their involvement in recovery is essential.

Vinita Voss, health equity manager at the Spanish Community Center in Joliet, said the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need to address the well-documented systemic bias and structural racism that leads to disproportionate health outcomes for people of color.

“As a collective of trusted organizations committed to serve, we are advancing health equity and changing the public health narrative by educating, empowering, and eliminating barriers for communities of color in Will County,” Voss said. “These steps are vital to putting our County and State on the path to recovery from the impact of COVID-19 and beyond.”

The COVID-19 Justice and Equity for Will County Campaign is a collective of leading Black, Latinx, and immigrant rights organizations, serving low-income and underserved populations, who believe investment in equity is critical to pandemic recovery.