Pine River Shares in Bayfield brought COVID-19 vaccines to hard-to-reach communities in La Plata County last week as part of the state’s Vaccines for All plan.
The nonprofit, which takes a grassroots approach to its programming and community outreach, wanted to increase health access for residents of the Pine River Valley in eastern La Plata County. By coordinating with the state, it facilitated one of more than 20 clinics hosted by community-based organizations around Colorado.
“It was a great event,” said Deanna Devereaux, community volunteer with Pine River Shares. “It was a wonderful opportunity for our community to be served directly.”
Colorado has been distributing vaccines to community-based organizations since at least February in an effort to reach underserved Coloradans across a variety of diverse communities, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
“Equitable distribution of this lifesaving vaccine wouldn’t be possible without all the partners across our state working tirelessly to help us reach our goals,” Gov. Jared Polis said in the release.
The state allocated 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to Pine River Shares and contracted with the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District to administer the doses. Using precise dosing techniques, the district was able to vaccinate 109 people, according to Pine River Shares staff members.
The nonprofit narrowly focused its clinic efforts on people living in rural and remote parts of the region.
The 15,000 Pine River Valley residents can experience geographic and social isolation, food insecurity, and transportation and economic barriers that can affect access to resources, such as health care, Pine River Shares Executive Director Pam Wilhoite said in a news release.
“As a trusted community-based organization, we can reach folks who might otherwise have declined a COVID-19 vaccine,” Wilhoite said.
The nonprofit reached community members through flyers at its program locations and regional community centers. It also received referrals from Compañeros: Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center.
Pine River Shares manually registered people for the vaccine instead of sending out a registration link to ensure hard-to-reach people had access to appointments.
“It was really great. ... Everybody was just kind of thrilled to be there,” said Sara Grover with Pine River Shares. “People commented on how smoothly it went, how at ease they felt. ... We even gave out eggs since it was right before Easter. People were just really excited with how it went.”