Intern Updates: Juneteenth Vaccination Clinic – Doua Chee Xiong
The following is a blog post from Doua Chee Xiong. Xiong is an intern for Community Health Internship Program (CHIP) and works with WIPPS on the Hmong and Hispanic Communication Network (H2N).
Juneteenth, now a deservingly recognized federal holiday, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States which occurred on June 19th, 1865. It is celebrated with picnics, parades, gatherings and more all over the country. This year, I had the amazing opportunity to attend and volunteer at Wausau’s first Juneteenth event. It was incredibly heartwarming to see different communities in Wausau come together to acknowledge African American history and recognize how far we’ve come as a society along with the reinforcement of the work that is yet to be accomplished. This sunny and beautiful day was marked with wonderful live music, delicious food and dessert, fun games, and activities and lastly, a COVID-19 free walk-in clinic coordinated by the Hmong and Hispanic Communication Network (H2N).
As we celebrate and remember Juneteenth, it is also important to take note of the lasting effects of social injustice in America. For instance, the Covid pandemic has made abundantly clear that marginalized groups throughout the United States continue to suffer from health disparities. In an effort to bridge this gap, H2N has made it their mission to reach communities in central Wisconsin experiencing detrimental health outcomes by tackling the different obstacles playing a role in perpetuating disparities such as language, cultural and literacy barriers. Recently, the focus has primarily been on pushing forth accurate information on COVID-19 and increasing vaccination participation. Thus, in partnership with the Juneteenth event and the National Guard, Miah Medina, the African American coordinator for H2N, organized a vaccination clinic.
As a pre-medical student with goals to mitigate healthcare disparities in marginalized communities, I welcomed the opportunity to volunteer at the Juneteenth vaccination clinic. To encourage vaccination, we gave $10 and $20 gift cards to the first 20 people to get vaccinated. Right when the clinic opened, we had several families all from different backgrounds, come get vaccinated. In engaging with them, we learned about why they decided to get vaccinated and answered any questions they had. Additionally, many attendees both vaccinated and getting vaccinated, appreciated learning about information they were not aware of regarding the different vaccine types and COVID-19 related updates. We had a total of 17 people who either planned to get vaccinated or spontaneously decided to get vaccinated after directly conversing with medical professionals. From this experience, to me, it reiterated the importance of creating a safe space where patients truly feel comfortable to address concerns, and the value of listening to and educating patients; all aspects I believe are essential to lessening health disparities.
Doua Chee Xiong