A line of cars stretching through a parking garage near the Lakewood Wadsworth RTD station may have been the happiest place in the city on a rather dreary Wednesday morning last week. Because inside …
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A line of cars stretching through a parking garage near the Lakewood Wadsworth RTD station may have been the happiest place in the city on a rather dreary Wednesday morning last week. Because inside each of those cars, members of a group with high risks for COVID-19, who’ve been a bit under the radar, were finally able to get their first vaccination shot.
STRIDE Community Health Center, in partnership with The Developmental Disabilities Resource Center, The Arc of Jefferson, Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties and Jefferson County Public Health, put on a DisAbility vaccine event.
Michele Majeune, Developmental Disabilities Resource Center, Director of Community Relations, said the event was especially crucial because these individuals often have health conditions that make them more susceptible to the virus. The event is also significant because it occurs during National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, an annual observance meant to raise awareness around the challenges this population faces.
One of those patiently waiting to roll up their sleeve was 22-year-old Logan Borer, a young man who receives various services from DDRC.
Borer, who works at King Soopers and serves as a Youth Leader for religious youth organization Young Life, said the first thing he’s looking forward to doing when things eventually get back to normal is hanging out with friends. He’s also hoping to attend a camp at Crooked Creek Ranch this summer. Logan’s mom Bonnie drove him to the event and was getting her vaccine as well. She said she and Logan both contracted COVID-19 earlier in the year.
“We’re here just to make sure we don’t spread it and can get back to our lives a little bit,” she said.
Susan Todd, Director of External Affairs and Community Partnerships for STRIDE Community Health Center called it a wonderful day.
“We’re vaccinating approximately 431 people today, and we’re very excited to be able to do this,” she said. “We’ve had a steady stream of people. We’re doing the Moderna vaccine, so they’ll come back in four weeks to get their second dose.”
Rob DeHerrera, Executive Director of DDRC, was also in attendance. He said since the pandemic started, their goal has been to keep individuals and families they serve as safe as possible. The DisAbility event was just another step in their efforts, he said.
“A lot of our folks have been in isolation in group homes since the pandemic started, unable to see family or friends,” he said. “So, it’s really amazing to see so many people participating at this great event.”
Executive Director of The Arc for Jefferson, Clear Creek, and Gilpin Counties, Lori Ropa, said her organization advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). She said The Arc works with a lot of DDRC folks, but they also work with people who don’t have supports.
“It was really essential for us to get the word out to our community that these vaccinations were available to them, and this would be a friendly place to come and get them, to try to bring the level of anxiety down,” she said. “The whole pandemic has been a little bit terrifying.”
Ropa said the living situation of many people attending the event puts them at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. It’s also difficult for some of those people to really understand why they can’t hug their grandma or see their friends.
“We worked very hard statewide to say people who have an inability to wear masks, people with impulse control issues or challenges breathing — that’s a big problem for folks,” she said. “It’s been very challenging for people with IDD.”
Ropa said everyone has been beyond excited to get the vaccine and the chance to get back a little bit of normal life has overridden a lot of fears about the shots.
Right now, the organizations that partnered to host the event aren’t sure if there will be another. DeHerrera said they’re talking about putting a link to weekly vaccination events at STRIDE on the website of each organization.
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