A walk-in vaccination clinic in Aurora isn’t seeing the number of people expected by the staff. The dental and medical clinic inside the Mango House in Aurora started offering vaccinations to the neighboring community, but you must live in the 80010 zip code to get the shot there.
“Our medical practice has been around for 10 years. We serve only refugees and asylees. Except right now doing coronavirus shots we’re opening up to our surrounding neighborhood which is 80010 which is the poorest zip code in the metro area,” said Dr. P.J. Parmar who owns the Mango House and founded the health care facility in the building. “I was hoping by being in the community itself where we’ve been for years that might increase the acceptance rate. It’s such an underserved segment for so many reasons. They’ve been hit disproportionately hard by coronavirus. I just see it every day there. There’re not enough resources for them. They’re not the ones able to make calls or get on a computer to get a time at any of the big institutions or at Coors Field or wherever.”
Parmar says the clinic has been vaccinating about 40 people each day, and turning away many people because they don’t live in the zip code.
“I know it’s a loaded issue, but we’re trying to proactively help a community that’s got the short end of the stick with coronavirus not to mention anything else going back generations,” Parmar said.
He’s not exactly sure why people aren’t showing up for the free vaccines. He speculates it could be any one of multiple factors like age restrictions on the vaccine, distrust with the medical community or lack of information.
“In those neighborhoods they know many people personally, if not themselves, who have had coronavirus infection. Some of them may be fatigued by the whole thing or what does it matter? Everyone we know has already had it anyway,” Parmar said.
“We had one 81 year old come in a couple of days ago and he said, ‘I just came to see if this is legit.’ And we told him, ‘This is for you. Should we give you a shot right now?’ and he said, ‘No. I’ll come back later.’ He had a look that made me feel like, ‘is someone really doing this for him right there in the community?’”
On Sunday, during subzero temperatures, Parmar walked the neighborhood and handed out fliers at churches to help spread the word of the vaccine clinic he’s running. He’s got a direct line of distribution from the state, but turned down a shipment of doses this week because he now has a demand issue.
“Come March 5 or so, when we move to frontline workers, I think we’re going to see a big rush from communities,” he said. “That’s part of my job to try to keep working into those communities and how to increase the acceptance rate, and I may not be successful, but this is the game I enjoy.”