Vaccine clinic in San Lorenzo Valley aims to boost rates
Residents across the Santa Cruz Mountains — from Boulder Creek to Ben Lomond and beyond — have had lower rates of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters since the shots became widely available. A clinic Saturday aims to change that.
When COVID-19 vaccines first became widely available, Ann Bennett Young organized carpools from the Santa Cruz Mountains to a Capitola CVS to help her neighbors get vaccinated.
“People don’t usually travel within more than a five-mile radius of where they live up here … it’s just sort of the nature of the valley,” she said.
Addressing this, Encompass Community Services will host its second Vax & Boost clinic in Boulder Creek on Saturday. Organizers will have vaccines and boosters available for those 5 and older who register in advance or drop in during the three-hour event, which includes live music, free food and drink tokens from local businesses.
Encompass CEO Monica Martinez began working on the clinics last fall, noting that the San Lorenzo Valley had some of the lowest vaccination rates in Santa Cruz County and some of the highest COVID-19 case rates. As of Thursday, 68.8% of Boulder Creek residents were fully vaccinated, compared to the county average of 74%.
“It made me start to wonder, ‘Wow, what’s happening up here? How can we mobilize a local community response to address vaccine rates?’” she asked.
Martinez — a resident of Felton — said efforts like Vax the Valley had made significant inroads, but there was a need for more.
“There’s a whole community of folks who don’t come down into Felton or into Santa Cruz very frequently,” she said. “We wanted to target the population that was harder to reach … residents are more likely to seek vaccine access if they hear about it from people they know and trust.”
Martinez called Bennett Young — who works with volunteer nurses from Dominican Hospital and Santa Cruz County Health — and local business owners.
Gina Trepagnier, who has owned Joe’s Bar since 2016, said the events are a good step toward combating COVID.
“We had no testing or vaccines available in our neck of the woods for a really long period of time,” she said. “Anything that we can do to help support the effort to get a grip on this, I’m willing to do.”
For this Saturday, Trepagnier is donating “shot for shot” tokens — get a vaccine or booster and get a pint. She said she hopes events like these bring neighbors closer together, but said they also show what the county should focus on moving forward.
“Boulder Creek and San Lorenzo Valley is kind of the forgotten wilderness,” she said. “Keep us at the forefront, and not as an afterthought.”
Martinez’s team has two additional clinics planned — on March 26 and April 23 — with similar goals.
“If we want things to go back to normal and we want to be able to enjoy time together, it really does everybody good when folks get vaccinated — it’s a communitywide effort,” she said. “It’s a public health health effort, and we do it for ourselves, and we do it for others.”
If you’re going
What: Free COVID-19 vaccination and booster clinic
When: Saturday 2-5 p.m.
Where: Lone Wolf Kenpo Academy, 13089 Highway 9, Boulder Creek
Registration: Limited walk-in spots are available, or make an appointment at tinyurl.com/vaxandboost2.