The team at the Princeton Health Department has been noticing a decrease in attendance at the town’s primary vaccination clinic site at the Princeton Senior Resource Center, a slowdown in demand that mirrors what is happening at both the state and national levels. Officials decided to take their efforts to the streets last week and have been able to reach more people with the help of local businesses.
Last Friday, members of the health department headed out to Witherspoon Street in the early morning to provide vaccine education to people who live in the neighborhood. Health Officer Jeff Grosser said the health department has always had great success reaching out to community members on Witherspoon Street early in the morning, especially on days when the weather is nice and people are on their way to work, or are waiting for rides. The Friday outreach effort turned into an impromptu vaccine clinic, with about 40 people receiving vaccines.
“The event was not originally intended to be a large clinic by any means, simply providing vaccine education and seeing what type of interest in the vaccine existed,” Grosser said. “After the first few encounters, residents were asking for a vaccination on site right then and there. Our staff quickly called over to the department asking for more doses, and the education event turned into a walk-in vaccine clinic at La Mexicana.”
Grosser said the walk-in clinic would not have been possible without the help of Edgar and Sara from El Chapin, Norma and Santiago from La Mexicana, and Rocio from Conexion Latina. They are trusted members of the business community serving immigrants and others from the neighborhood, and they also provided space, assistance, coffee and friendly faces that made the Friday event a success.
The majority of the residents who received vaccines were day laborers waiting to be picked up for work. Later in the morning, some mothers walking by after bringing their kids to school were vaccinated. At Conexion Latina, the health department registered 32 more people for an evening street clinic that will take place this Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. Health department representatives, with the help of the human services department, also passed out vaccine education materials and talked with people who were unsure about getting vaccinated. Signs and registration forms were in Spanish and English.
“There were interpreters, and our staff were able to reassure people not to be worried, and that the only goal was to vaccinate them,” Mayor Mark Freda said. “The health department staff have been working hard and making a great effort to get people vaccinated, from conducting clinics at Redding Circle, Spruce Street, and Clay Street, to visiting the homebound.”