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Salishan community dares to care about COVID-19 vaccination.

We’ve all heard the expression “Love your neighbor,” but the Salishan community located on Tacoma’s diverse Eastside puts that neighborly love into action. 

Each month, beginning in May, the Salishan Association is hosting a free monthly vaccination clinic held at the Tacoma Housing building, knowns as “Family Investment Center” (FIC) located at 1724 East 44th Street.

The clinic is free, easy, and no insurance or ID is required. 

As a representative of the Health Department, I recently attended Salishan’s virtual town hall to answer any questions about COVID-19 vaccines, and that’s when I learned the Salishan community doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to neighborly love. They walk the walk. 

Last month, a team of resident volunteers took to the Salishan sidewalks and knocked on every door in their community, all 1,300 dwellings, to tell residents about the monthly vaccine clinics.

Janette Simon, general manager for the Salishan Association, told me it took about 10 community volunteers 3 days to knock on every door. And when Salishan residents had questions about COVID-19 vaccine, volunteers let them know about Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s  call center.

That kind of extra-mile effort shows that Salishan is more than just a place to live. Neighbors protecting neighbors against a virus that has already taken too many lives is an inspiration for all communities who care, because where vaccinations are high, COVID-19 cases are low. 

As Simon explained, “This is a close community. We look out for one another.” 

Monthly neighborhood vaccine clinics give everyone a vaccination plan.

The Salishan community has been around since the 1940s, and together they have lived through  local and world events, but the COVID-19 pandemic has hit them hard. 

Simon said the monthly walk-in vaccine clinics are a big relief to people who didn’t already have a vaccine plan. 

“Vaccines bring the kind of hope our community has been waiting for,” Simon said.

“As a mixed income community, we have seen our community negatively impacted by the pandemic, especially economically,” said Simon, adding, “Food insecurity is always a challenge in our community, and the pandemic only heightened that because of job loss or income loss.”

Simon said people in Salishan have pandemic fatigue. They want to get back to the kind of community events and parties they enjoyed before COVID-19 caused neighbors to shut their doors and keep their distance. 

Simon expressed the stress of social isolation, saying, “Though harder to measure, it has afflicted our community—especially seniors and youth.”

Who’s ready to celebrate?

Since the pandemic began, Simon said the Salishan Association has stayed true to their mission, which is “to build a community in every way we can,” and right now they are building back community one vaccine at a time.

Simon said, “With all the diverse cultures, religions and ages in Salishan, there is just about always a reason to celebrate and come together each month.” But first, everyone who is eligible needs a vaccine.

Salishan is a great example of what can happen when communities care about one another and act. Healthcare workers have rightfully been called heroes, but so are volunteers who lace up their shoes to make sure everyone in the community has a vaccine plan.

If you would like us to help you or your community get a vaccine plan, contact us at (253) 649-1412.

Everyone 12 and older is eligible for vaccine. You can also drop in at any clinic and get vaccinated without an appointment. See available clinics at www.tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.

If you need a ride to an appointment or can’t easily leave your home, we can help! Call us at (253) 649-1412, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week.

Still on the fence about vaccination? Washington residents who have at least one dose of vaccine are entered in the state’s Shot of a Lifetime drawings. You could win cash prizes of $250,000 or $1 million, higher education financial assistance, game systems and smart speakers, and event and flight tickets.