ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — The cafeteria at Thornton High School morphed from a lunch hall to a vaccine clinic Friday afternoon.
The goal was to help hundreds of Afghan families, recent refugees who've moved to the U.S. seeking safety after the Taliban takeover in their home country. For the children now enrolled in Adams12 schools, this was an opportunity to get caught up on school-required vaccinations.
“Sometimes [it's] the transportation, sometimes the language barrier problem, so they cannot get [access] to those vaccines,” said Farid Stanikzai, a community navigator with the school district who is helping these families settle into their new community.
“They are doing much better now than a year ago when they were very new into the country,” he said. “[The kids] are picking up English. Some of them, they can communicate – they are helping their parents.”
The event was a partnership with several organizations: Adams12 School District provided the space and the connection to the families, Colorado Alliance for Health Equity and Practice provided the vaccines, and Regis University's Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professional provided the vaccine administrators: nursing and pharmacy students.
Julissa Soto is an independent health equity consultant who helped organize the event Friday afternoon. She’s planned many vaccine events in recent years.
“Organizing communities of color, bringing mobile vaccines to their community… I feel communities of color don’t trust the government,” she said. “And this is an opportunity for the community to access services, for us to go to them instead of them coming to us.”
The clinic at Thornton High School offered a variety of vaccines, including MMR, HepB, COVID and Polio, among others. Adams12 staff members helped families overcome the transportation barrier by picking up families from their homes and driving them to the event.
Kellan Covey is one of the Regis students who got the chance to help give shots on Friday.
“Our goal is to target the community, make it a little easier, more accessible, show how involved the pharmacist is overall in the community, regards to immunization, medication, overall the healthcare system for individuals,” he said.
“This definitely helps with extending our hand out to the community, as part of community, to help out those underserved individuals, or individuals who haven’t had the time to go out and get the different care they do need.”
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