SILER CITY — The Hispanic Liaison, in partnership with Greensboro-based medical provider Better Care, vaccinated more than 200 people during its COVID-19 Health Fair on Saturday, blowing the …
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SILER CITY — The Hispanic Liaison, in partnership with Greensboro-based medical provider Better Care, vaccinated more than 200 people during its COVID-19 Health Fair on Saturday, blowing the nonprofit’s original expectations out of the water.
“It was crazy. It was way above our expectations,” Ilana Dubester, the Liaison’s founder and executive director, told the News + Record. She added with a laugh, “When we changed from Fiesta to this, it was like, ‘Well, you know, let’s hope 50 people show up.’”
From 2 to 6 p.m. in the Chatham Rabbit Cafe courtyard, Better Care providers administered 259 vaccinations and rapid antigen tests, most of them first doses. The health fair replaced the Hispanic Heritage Fiesta, which the Liaison canceled in early August due to the rising threat of the Delta variant.
Beyond free rapid antigen testing and vaccinations, the health fair hosted a variety of vendors, several information booths staffed by various health organizations and Mexican-American artist Antonio Alanís, whose artwork is now on display inside the N.C. Arts Incubator until Oct. 15 in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month.
“We had, I think, six to seven outreach booths from organizations, and they were awesome,” Dubester said. “They came really well prepared. They had goodies to give away to the community. We had food boxes from CORA and La Semilla. The group from La Semilla also came with school supplies. We had a whole table of goodies to give away to kids, like soap, sunscreen and books.”
The event also offered vaccination incentives to the unvaccinated and vaccinated alike. Once doses were administered, newly vaccinated participants received a $100 visa gift card from the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, plus a box of food from CORA. Those already fully or partially vaccinated could receive a box of food as well if they brought others to get vaccinated.
According to Dubester, those incentives, plus extensive community outreach, likely factored into the health fair’s unexpectedly large crowd and number of vaccinations. The demand for vaccines far outstripped the event’s supply.
“We realized early in the event that (Better Care) had brought extra shots, like they always do bring extra shots, but even the extra shots were not enough,” Dubester said. “So Dr. (Phillip) Hobb, who owns Better Care, drove back to Greensboro to pick up more vaccines, so that we could serve everybody because there were so many walk-ins.”
In total, she estimated that between 350 and 400 people, including entire families, came to the health fair — a figure she said amounted to a “mini-Fiesta.”
“The majority were Latinos, but there were definitely other community members who came to get vaccinated, which we’re very pleased with, because it was for everybody and we certainly wanted them to feel welcome,” Dubester said. “Cesar (Merlos), our DJ, also kept us going with announcements and good music. It was good.”
The Liaison and its partners will hold a second-dose vaccination clinic from 2 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 9 in the Chatham Rabbit Cafe courtyard. To avoid long lines, staff will schedule those registered to attend for certain times slots throughout the afternoon.
“We’re not planning on having an event like we did this time,” Dubester said. “It’s just straight-up shots, no information booths … We’ll communicate with everybody who came via text message to let them know about the October 9 (event).”
Reporter Victoria Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.