Kurdish and Hispanic community served by local mobile vaccination clinic

Kurdish Vaccine
Posted at 4:28 PM, Apr 10, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — If you've tried signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine, you know that the process can sometimes be hard to navigate. Now imagine trying to do it, if English isn't your primary language. That's why Vanderbilt University Medical Center partnered with Valor Academy and the Amed Clinic to host a mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic and recruited a lot of their patients the old-fashioned way.

Renas Haji and his family live close by the clinic. "When they told me it was right here I had to take advantage of it," said Haji. "I actually brought my whole family."

Many others were drawn to Valor's Compass Center, fittingly, from all different directions and backgrounds. "This is a largely a Kurdish and Hispanic community and this is a central location that they feel comfortable with," said April Kapu, a nurse practitioner from Vanderbilt Health.

While it takes a lot of foot traffic to pull off a clinic like this, it took even more beforehand to reach the communities Vanderbilt Health is hoping to serve. That’s where Valor Academy and the Amed Clinic came in. They handled the vital outreach to their neighbors through a variety of means, including translating materials into Spanish and Arabic, and prescheduled all 500 vaccine appointments. When the clinic had day-of-event openings, staff members and volunteers took to social media and the phones. In the past, this same group has gone door-to-door to spread the word.

Vanderbilt University Nursing Professor Christian Ketel was one of those who pounded the pavement.

"You can’t build trust if you’re not there," said Ketel. "As we’re going door to door, we get three responses -- yes, no and I have questions."

While Ketel prefers a yes, he enjoys easing concerns even more. "With 'I have questions,' it’s a really great opportunity for nursing, our students, our staff and our faculty to go in and have great conversations with people about -- not only COVID but their health and their well-being," he said.

But the best ambassadors are the ones sitting in the patient's chair. "If all of them go out and talk to their family and friends -- then we can get them all in and get them vaccinated. And if we stay on this path, we’ll get to herd immunity," said Kapu.

It's the kind of message that Haji hopes to share with anyone who will listen. "It’s painless, it’s quick and easy and it’s definitely worth it. Definitely take advantage," said Haji.

If you missed the event, Vanderbilt Health is planning another mobile vaccination clinic in Antioch in three weeks. The team also plans on providing some COVID-19 vaccines at people's homes, who may struggle with mobility.

For more information, call Vanderbilt at 888-312-0847.