Durham leaders reach out to unvaccinated with neighborhood clinics

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham elected and community leaders spent Saturday urging unvaccinated people to get their COVID-19 shots at several vaccine clinics.

One clinic, inside Bethesda Elementary School, vaccinated dozens of people including Jared Fuentes and his brother Erick. Both told ABC11 they're happy to roll up their sleeves.

"It's not bad at all! I barely even felt it," said Jared. "I feel protected now."

He and others acted after Durham mayor Steve Schewel alerted the community about a surge of COVID-19 cases in the city and the county.

"We have more cases in Durham than we've had in a long time," said the mayor. "We have more hospitalizations than we've had in months. The Delta variant is for real, and unless we get people vaccinated it is going to spread among those who are unvaccinated."

While waiting for any signs of side effects from his shot, Erick Fuentes said "It's a little bit concerning, but I think as long as people are vaccinating the way they should be the rates should be getting lower and lower as we vaccinate more."

The school's one of three sites for vaccine clinics in Durham, including one organized at the Wheels Fun Park by La Semilla and another at Eastway Elementary school, chosen to provide easier access to those who want to protect themselves and others.

"And in our Black and brown communities, we don't have nearly the level of uptake on the vaccine. Part of that is access, and part of that is trust. People don't trust the healthcare system, often for good reasons. Our community healthcare workers are people who are trusted in the community," said Mayor Schewel.

Some of that outreach comes from the group Together for Resilient Community, or TRY.

Dr. Wanda Boone of TRY is pleased with Saturday's response: "Their children literally brought them and said Mom, Dad, you need to get vaccinated. So they were here for their children."

And Norma Andino, mother of the Fuentes brothers said Mayor Schewel's warning about the Delta variant was "Very scary! And that's why I'm here. It was kind of hard to make the decision, but now I feel more comfortable doing it. I think it's more important, especially with this spread."

Those who still aren't vaccinated could get $100 in gift cards after rolling up their sleeves. Go to Durham County's Public Health website for more information on where and when the shots and gift cards are available.

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