El Futuro begins vaccination drive for the Latino community

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SILER CITY — El Futuro, a bilingual mental health clinic, held the first of several COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Durham Sunday — and has plans to host several more in Siler City in the coming weeks.

Held inside the nonprofit’s Durham office, the Sunday clinic saw 96 first doses of the Moderna and J&J COVID-19 vaccines administered — nearly double the number of doses El Futuro and its partner, Carolina Blue Pharmacy, had originally planned to administer.

“We had originally planned for 50 people,” said one of El Futuro’s clinical project managers, Triana Barrios, who’s also leading the vaccination campaign. “... So it definitely went a lot better than we expected, and the people responded well.”

El Futuro announced the vaccination campaign early last week after partnering with Carolina Blue Pharmacy, a Chapel Hill-based pharmacy and enrolled vaccine provider. The pharmacy reached out first to El Futuro, Barrios said, after hearing it’d been looking to launch a vaccination campaign for its community — the Spanish-speaking residents El Futuro serves across several counties, including Chatham.

“We didn’t really have any connections to each other,” Barrios said. “I think that it was some mutual connection that actually introduced us because they (Carolina Blue Pharmacy) were looking for partners, and we were looking for partners, as well. So that worked out really, really well.”

It was a bit of a “last-minute connection,” Barrios said, and at first, she worried that it wouldn’t work out quite as well as it turned. Staff began contacting people about the Sunday clinic late last Tuesday.

“We’re like, ‘50 people. Where are we going to get 50 people so fast?’” she said. “Then we have been so blessed that people here at El Futuro, they’re like, ‘Yeah, I have people, hold on. Let me let me just pass this information to them.’ And it’s been wonderful.”

But the vaccines aren’t just for El Futuro’s clients or the Spanish-speaking communities the clinic serves, according to Barrios; they’re for anyone “in need of a vaccine.”

“Obviously, our focus is the Latino community,” Barrios said. “However, the drive is going to be available to anybody. Right now, we’re doing 18 and older, but depending on if we’re able to get some Pfizer, we might also make it available for people 16 and up.”

Though they’re still ironing out the campaign’s details, Barrios said they’ve planned for another 100-dose vaccination drive this Sunday at their Durham office, located at 2020 Chapel Hill Drive Suite 23. If all goes well, the clinic will offer the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to get vaccinated.

According to Barrios, El Futuro also plans to hold small vaccination clinics at its Siler City office in the near future “to give the opportunity to people that are a little bit more in rural areas, farther areas, to also have access to the vaccine.” Its Siler City office is located on 401-B North Ivey Avenue.

“We are working with our partners to provide the efforts needed to get the vaccine to our patients,” she told the News + Record Tuesday. “We’re not going to be necessarily doing it this weekend in Siler City as we had originally planned, but we’re still working to make it happen in the near future. I do not have a specific date yet.”

El Futuro has also decided to host most vaccination clinics during the weekend to accommodate the community its staff serve — though Barrios said they may reconsider if people ask for weekday vaccine clinics.

“We know that a lot of people in our community have limitations to go during the week and make arrangements during the week,” Barrios said. “A lot of people, especially construction workers, may have to be at work even on a Saturday, and then Sunday morning, it’s the time when a lot of people prefer to profess their faith, so we wanted to make it convenient.”

To sign up for El Futuro’s upcoming clinics, go to bit.ly/3mGntGi. A bilingual vaccination registration form will ask for name, gender, date of birth, address, contact information and primary care provider. The form also functions as a waitlist. Those who El Futuro couldn’t fit into Sunday’s clinic will be among the first to be contacted for this weekend’s, Barrios said.

People should bring some form of ID and their health insurance cards, if they have insurance, to the clinic. But it’s not obligatory.

“That doesn’t limit to U.S. IDs. It could be an ID of their original country, if they don’t have a U.S. valid ID,” she said, adding, “Now, if they don’t have an ID or don’t have an insurance card, we will still give them the vaccine, but it’s just easier for the processing of the card and verifying and keeping track of who has received the vaccine if we have a valid document or a document that can identify the person that we are giving the vaccine.”

It’s not clear yet how many clinics El Futuro will hold and where. El Futuro may not have the same vaccines from clinic to clinic, either, Barrios added. She could guarantee, however, that El Futuro will continue hosting clinics as long as it can — and “for as long as it’s needed.”

“We’ll try to help as much as we can,” she said. “A lot of this work is also based on volunteer time, so if we have the resources to do it, we’ll continue to do it for as long as needed. … We’re looking to do it for a while until there’s no people out there needing that vaccine.”

Reporter Victoria Johnson can be reached at victoria@chathamnr.com.

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