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Colorado Health Workers Up Efforts To Get Vaccines To Where The People Are

NOEL KING, HOST:

Around 47% of Americans are now fully vaccinated. But some groups, including Latinos, are falling behind. In Colorado, there's an effort to bring vaccines directly to where people are, including, in one case, at a soccer match. Here's John Daley.

JOHN DALEY, BYLINE: As summer got going at an international soccer tournament held at Empower Field at Mile High, there were horns...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DALEY: ...Drums...

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DALEY: ...Rowdy crowds for teams from Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and the USA.

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DALEY: And next to the stadium, inside an RV-like, red and white bus, there's this.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: And which arm do you want it in, right or left?

OSCAR FILIPE SANCHEZ: Right's better.

DALEY: They're giving vaccines here. Oscar Filipe Sanchez (ph) comes to the bus wearing a Mexico jersey with a Mexico flag draped over his shoulders.

You came for the game. How come you decided to get your shot today?

With the help of a translator, he says...

SANCHEZ: (Through interpreter) I have a little bit more freedom. And that way, if I'm out and exposed, I'm protected.

DALEY: Sanchez is a house painter. He lives in Colorado Springs. After he got sick with COVID-19 a couple of months ago, he thought it was time.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: He was advised to wait a little bit afterwards before getting the shot. So...

DALEY: Are you glad now? You feel good to get it today?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Non-English language spoken).

SANCHEZ: (Non-English language spoken). Oh, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yes (laughter). Yes, he's more trusting to go out.

DALEY: Soccer fans who got shots at the games have urged friends to do the same. That's a good strategy, says Karimme Quintana (ph). She works as a promotora, a community health worker for Latino Denverites. She says many of them may trust a friend or relative more than even a doctor.

KARIMME QUINTANA: They need to be more educate about COVID because they have a lot of questions. And Latino people, they listen the neighbor, they listen my friend.

DALEY: Outside the stadium, fans are tailgating. And an energetic man is sporting a wrestling mask in Mexico's green and red colors. It's Jesus Romero Serrano (ph). And he's handing out cards about where to get the vaccine.

JESUS ROMERO SERRANO: Absolutely. It's a Mexico game versus Honduras. So Latins, Latinos are out here (laughter). This is the perfect place to be to reach the Latin community, absolutely.

DALEY: He's a community ambassador for the Denver mayor's office.

What do you think is the reason that folks are not getting vaccinated?

ROMERO SERRANO: They don't trust the health care system.

DALEY: Romero Serrano wades into the crowd.

ROMERO SERRANO: Hey, guys, you get the vaccine?

DALEY: And when he asks, he hears many say they already got their shots.

ROMERO SERRANO: Everybody has...

DALEY: They said they already had it.

ROMERO SERRANO: The common answer is everybody has it (laughter).

DALEY: Do you think they're just trying to avoid you?

ROMERO SERRANO: Yes, absolutely (laughter).

DALEY: Or do you think they really have it?

ROMERO SERRANO: No, I think they don't have it. And they're being so courteous, they're being so nice that they say, oh, it's OK. We already have it (laughter). Yeah.

DALEY: He tells people he's been vaccinated and explains how the vaccines are safe and effective.

ROMERO SERRANO: Basically, it comes down to, like, the facts and the science, being truthful to what you're saying. You can really get to people's hearts.

DALEY: Romero Serrano says even if someone isn't ready to get their shots just yet, it's good that he's making contact, ready with answers and, hopefully, planting a seed to get that shot soon.

For NPR News, I'm John Daley in Denver.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRAY FOR SOUND'S "YOUNG") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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