Methodist, OHA, DCHD team up to vaccinate invisible populations

Officials try to reach vulnerable communities.
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 8:48 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Some say it’s a ticket to health, while others still don’t trust the COVID-19 vaccine.

They are often people who are minorities, immigrants, refugees, or earn low incomes.

“I already had Covid before, but I went ahead and gave it a try just so I don’t get it again and it’s not as severe,” said Amber Frazier, Kay Jay Tower employee.

Frazier still has doubts about the vaccine after she received her first dose Tuesday at her workplace. That’s why staff and students at Nebraska Methodist College are reaching out to invisible populations—right at their doorstep.

“They don’t have the ability to get tested,” said Kiley Petersmith, Nebraska Methodist nurse and director of community engagement. “They don’t have the financial feasibility, the transportation to get there. They don’t have a primary care provider. Those are people that may get symptoms and may never know that they have Covid.”

The Omaha Housing Authority knows where to introduce them, and the Douglas County Health Department provides the vaccine.

Nurses often have to work through stigmas and misinformation. Petersmith says nurses are often who these invisible populations trust the most.

“Some of those people who are invisible have a mortality rate twice as much as the general population,” Petersmith said.

Kay Jay Tower resident David Ridge received information about the clinic in his mailbox.

The 74-year-old describes himself as old school. He uses a landline and doesn’t own a cell phone or a car.

If it wasn’t for the Tuesday clinic, he says he doesn’t know how he would have been inoculated.

“I got my ticket,” Ridge said. “It’s not a golden ticket, but I got my ticket.”

The trio partnership vaccinated 88 people between the Kay Jay and Underwood towers Tuesday. They’ll visit more low-income housing Wednesday. Methodist could soon begin planning more clinics beyond this week.

Wednesday, February 24

8:30 a.m. to Noon: Crown Tower, 5904 Henninger Dr. (60 residents age 65+)

12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.: Evans Tower, 3600 N 24th St. (49 residents age 65+)

Amber Frazier doesn’t want to steer anyone into the vaccine. It’s not her job to do that. It’s what the three groups have to take on to earn trust across Omaha.

“I’ll try to trust the research and hopefully I do not get Covid again and this is the route to go,” Frazier said.

These clinics are not open to the public. Instead, officials from one of the three groups contact vulnerable populations for registration. Employees, along with residents age 65 and older, are scheduled to receive their second doses in March.

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