Vaccinations for the local refugee population

A vaccination pod was held at the Center in Downtown Utica earlier today, and it was just for refugees.

Posted: Mar 12, 2021 5:53 PM
Updated: Mar 12, 2021 6:03 PM

There are at least 42 different languages spoken throughout the City of Utica, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise how confusing it can be to translate ever changing information concerning the pandemic. For local refugees it’s even more confusing when the information is coming from multiple sources. Shelly Callahan is the Executive Director of the Center.

"We’ve had to refine our messaging, and really address all those sorts of concerns that people have because our folks listen to news and news sources not only locally, but nationally, and internationally."

The Center was able to vaccinate around 200 local refugees during their first vaccination clinic, but getting them in the door was only their first obstacle

"We’ve also translated materials in I think 9 different languages, so that when people leave they can take information in their language about the vaccine they’ve received, side effects, all sorts of information about the vaccine. You know when to come back…"

The Center partnered with Upstate Family Health Center Inc. for this vaccination pod so refugees can leave with a better understanding of what the clinics are trying to do. Richard Williams is the Director of Nurse Services for Upstate Family Health Center, Inc. 

"What we seemed to have found is that there’s a lot of misconceptions within the community on the safety and the efficacy of the vaccine, so coming to the Center, having a vaccination site like this is hopefully going to be tearing down some of those barriers we’ve been getting to get the folks vaccinated."

The Center is also partnering with Chobani. They provided a case of yogurt and other products to anyone who received a vaccine. Chobani Community Engagement Manager Donald Brown says Chobani employs a good number of refugees from the area and wanted to make sure they all have the same opportunity to get a vaccine if they choose to.

"We’ve got a nice hefty population of refugees at the plant, and with everyone it’s all about getting the word out, and explaining the vaccination, so across the board, of making sure that folks are aware, that there’s a site available, and if they’re eligible to come down and get that vaccine."

This was the first clinic the Center has held specifically for the refugee population, but there are plans in the works for another clinic as early as March 19th. You can check Upstate Family Health Center Inc. facebook page for the latest vaccination information concerning these pods. 

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