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Wary of the vaccine, people find trust, comfort at small community clinics

While many of the mass vaccination sites around the state are seeing a decline in people wanting vaccines, small community clinics are full.

AURORA, Colo. — The way people are getting their vaccines is changing. 

The lines are shorter outside the big mass vaccination sites, but inside the small community clinics, a steady stream of people are still eager to get the shot.

At the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Aurora, the building used to hosting crowds on Sundays has become a place for celebration on days without service.

Cheering fills the room as more people receive their vaccinations. 

"Why we’re doing this right now is to really make sure that our communities don’t get left behind with the vaccine administration," said Kweku Hazel, one of the organizers of the vaccine clinic. "Everyone has to be able to get the vaccines for all of us to be safe."

Kweku is a surgical fellow at UCHealth. His wife Cynthia is a public health researcher with the Omni Institute. Together they’ve hosted four vaccine equity clinics in four months through the state health department and helped more than 2,000 people get vaccinated.

"It wasn’t just the vaccine being available, there were so many different factors that went into people’s decisions to get the vaccine, and where to get the vaccine was one of the most important," said Cynthia Hazel. "People wanted to make sure that the person administering the vaccine was someone they could trust and that the vaccine was being administered at a place they were familiar with."

Miles away from the nearest mass vaccination site, the clinic run by the Hazels is staffed by volunteers from the communities they serve.

They’ve found offering vaccines in a familiar location by people who live and work in the area helps people gain trust and feel more comfortable.

"A lot of success with these clinics has been based on the fact that we have community trust," said Cynthia Hazel. 

Trust in something so personal doesn’t just come with time. It’s built every day by volunteers like this.

"There’s still a lot of people out there who want, need, and would like access to the vaccines," said Kweku Hazel. "It’s very fulfilling. It makes our community feel good and it makes all of us healthier."