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Prairie Middle School hosts targeted vaccination clinic

People checking in at PMS COVID-19 vaccination clinic COVID-19 vaccination “This was a blessing!”

Parent Roxana Robles expressed what many people were feeling as she participated in a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Prairie Middle School on April 13. The clinic was held specifically for parents and family members of CCSD students who are learning English as an additional language. Most of the families who participated speak a language other than English.

Speaking through CCSD cultural liaison and interpreter Miracle Nuanes, Robles explained in Spanish that she wanted to be vaccinated to protect her health and the health of her children and other family members. She added that it was much easier to participate in the clinic at Prairie, rather than navigate the confusing online system to sign up for a vaccination.

“I don’t have a computer, I don’t have the internet,” Robles said. “It’s very difficult to try and do it through your phone.”

Family after vaccination “It is a very hard system to navigate and if English isn’t your first language, it makes it almost impossible,” Nuanes added. She and other cultural liaisons helped families sign up for the clinic, then assisted them with paperwork and helped answer any questions they had.

Bogdan Malakhlu, a senior at Overland High School, came to the clinic with his parents, Leanid Malakhlu and Tatsiama Malakhava. Since Bogdan is 18 years old, he is eligible to be vaccinated, so all three of them received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Russian is the family’s first language, so Bogdan interpreted for his mother, who said she was happy to get the vaccine to help protect her and her family from the coronavirus.

Prairie is hosting three clinics this week in an effort to provide the first vaccine dose to some 900 people through a partnership with the Governor’s Equity Task Force and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. A second round of clinics will be held in May so participants can get their second dose. Prairie Principal John Contreraz said hosting the clinic is just one of many ways the school helps to meet the needs of its very diverse community.

“Our communities of color really need a trusted place to be able to receive the vaccine, to ask questions and talk to providers,” Contreraz said. “They have medical questions, they have other questions, and by doing this at a school that they know and trust, it makes a difference.”

“We are empowering our parents,” Nuanes said. “The trust that they have in their school, the bridges that the school has built with the community, are opening up the doors so that they can get vaccinated. It’s just so important.”

Clinic staff and volunteers Clinic volunteers Nuanes added that the clinics would not have been possible without the support of Chris Smith, CCSD  chief of staff and incoming superintendent; Dr. Holly Porter, director of Language Supports and Services; David Roybal, a senior data analyst with Language Supports and Services; Kelly Osuna and Jessica Price, teachers at Overland High School; and other staff members and students from Overland and Prairie who volunteered their time to help with clinic set-up and cleanup, guiding guests through the process and more.

“I think it’s important that we continue to meet the needs of the community,” Principal Contreraz said. “In this pandemic, we’ve learned that those needs will always move and change and we’re just really committed to making sure we’re doing that here at Prairie.”

Posted 4/15/2021.