By Conor McCue

DENVER (CBS4) – Amid the race to vaccinate Coloradans, the parking lot at East High School was transformed into a vaccination clinic Saturday. The clinic was made possible through a partnership between the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Metro Caring, a nonprofit that works to address issues such as hunger and poverty.

Five hundred people had appointments to receive their first shot of the Moderna vaccine. Eva Luevano, a Denver resident, was one of them.

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(credit: CBS)

“I did get hit by COVID last year, and it was not fun at all,” Luevano said. “We need to protect ourselves.”

Luevano says she was hesitant to get the vaccine, but eventually signed up for the clinic after a family member shared information about it.

“I was nervous, but now I’m so relieved,” she said. “It’s just like a normal shot.”

The clinic comes as a new group of Coloradans are eligible to get their shots. The state’s phase 1B.3, which opened up March 5, includes anyone 60 and up, frontline essential workers in grocery and agriculture, and people with two or more serious health concerns.

“We’re just extremely excited, and we can’t wait until everyone comes back and gets their second shot,” said Erik Hicks, Chief Development Officer with Metro Caring.

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According to Hicks, Metro Caring’s weeks of planning for the event included a number of outreach efforts to ease people’s concerns about the vaccine. The biggest focus for the event was vaccinating people from low-income communities and communities of color, which are groups the nonprofit has already served for decades.

“People of color haven’t always trusted the health officials and health departments, so we just wanted to make sure that we were providing a safe, equitable, experience,” Hicks said. “I think we are a trusted member of our community, so it was extremely important for us to reach out and offer this vaccine.”

(credit: CBS)

That trust is why Hicks will be proud to share with friends and family that he was vaccinated at the event too.

“It’s important that those trusted sources not only have the information but can advocate with the community around their needs for being safe and healthy,” He said.

Eva Luevano will report back to family and friends about how seamless the process was Saturday. For her, fear of getting COVID again was ultimately greater than any concerns about the vaccine.

“I can’t wait to get my second shot,” She said.

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Metro Caring will have a follow up clinic so everyone can get their second shots Saturday, April 3. The clinic will be appointment only.

Conor McCue